Rus­sell prin­ci­pal mov­ing on

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Alis­tair Hud­son walked out the gates of Rus­sell School for the fi­nal time last week, happy in the knowl­edge it is in a safe and ded­i­cated pair of hands.

The pop­u­lar and forth­right prin­ci­pal has been at the helm of Rus­sell School for six years, bring­ing sta­bil­ity and progress to a school that en­dured its fair share of volatil­ity.

In­ter­nal strife led to a per­sonal griev­ance case and the even­tual res­ig­na­tion of long-stand­ing prin­ci­pal David Stan­ley, and the dis­in­te­gra­tion of the board of trustees. A com­mis­sioner was brought in to man­age the school in the in­terim, be­fore Mr Hud­son was ap­pointed in Oc­to­ber 2004.

He says the school had been at ‘‘cri­sis point’’, lum­bered with an $80,000 deficit and and very low staff morale. Both have been turned around, with money in the bank, cap­i­tal works un­der way at the school, the right ‘‘sys­tems’’ in place and a con­fi­dent feel to the way the school is op­er­at­ing.

How­ever, Mr Hud­son feels the time is right for a change. The school needs ‘‘ new en­ergy and fresh blood’’ and he is pos­i­tive about his own chal­lenges ahead.

Next year, the 47-year-old will take up the reins at Manga­maire School, just out of Eke­tahuna, which is decile 9, has 28 pupils from year 1-8 and only ‘‘ 2.4’’ teach­ers. It’s a world away from a school embed­ded in Porirua East and decile 1a, but af­ter 10 years out of the class­room, he’s had enough.

‘‘ I’ve got no de­sire to play gen­tle­man farmer, liv­ing on a life­style block or any­thing, but I don’t want to live in the city any more. I would love to stand on my ve­randa and have a 360-de­gree view of na­ture, hills and trees. The time has come for me to go back to my ground­ings, do what I used to do and ‘walk the walk’ – I will be a prin­ci­pal but I won’t be just push­ing paper around a desk any longer.’’

Mr Hud­son speaks highly of his re­place­ment Sose An­nan­dale, a born-and-bred lo­cal and un­til now the school’s deputy prin­ci­pal.

‘‘Rus­sell School is poised and it will be fab­u­lous to have a new prin­ci­pal in Sose. She has been my deputy for three years and I think it’s very ex­cit­ing for a per­son who has grown up in this com­mu­nity to take charge. I’ve been made to feel wel­come in my time here but Sose is some­one who knows this area so well, she can lead the school in a way I never could.’’

Han­dling chil­dren who have dif­fi­culty learn­ing, and who face ‘‘ other chal­lenges’’ in their en­vi­ron­ment out­side school, will al­ways cre­ate pres­sure for teach­ers, he says. But teach­ers in decile 10 schools un­doubt­edly have their own tar­gets and wor­ries, Mr Hud­son says.

The new na­tional stan­dards – some­thing he is par­tic­u­larly crit­i­cal of – ERO re­ports and ‘‘ never hav­ing enough money’’ are a prin­ci­pal’s lot, which will fol­low him to Manga­maire.

Mr Hud­son is OK with the knowl­edge he won’t see the build­ing work fin­ished in the next two years, in­clud­ing all of the class­room up­grades. That’s just bricks and mor­tar. What he will miss is the peo­ple.

‘‘I’m go­ing to miss the team we’ve got to­gether here. They are so hard-work­ing, and of course the fam­i­lies, who pro­vide such im­por­tant feed­back for us. But I’ll es­pe­cially miss these kids – they are, with­out doubt, some of the most gen­uine, hon­est and hard­work­ing peo­ple I have come across. But I’ve done my bit, it’s time to move on.’’

Good­bye Mr Hud­son!: Alis­tair Hud­son de­parts Rus­sell School ‘‘in good heart’’ and while he is leav­ing Porirua he in­tends on keep­ing in touch to see how the school con­tin­ues to de­velop.

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