Kate Gains­ford ready to lead Aotea

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Kate Gains­ford could barely con­tain her ex­cite­ment.

An­nounced as Aotea Col­lege’s new prin­ci­pal late last year, fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of Tim Davies-col­ley, her first ‘‘of­fi­cial’’ day of work was not un­til this week.

Don’t be fooled though – she has spent plenty of time at Aotea in the past weeks and, be­fore term four ended in 2011, was busy meet­ing staff and stu­dents in an­tic­i­pa­tion of her new role.

‘‘The peo­ple here are amaz­ing, there’s a strong cal­i­bre of staff, who have an im­pres­sive skill set, and the stu­dents are fan­tas­tic am­bas­sadors for their school. There is a pos­i­tive feel to the place and I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to en­gag­ing with ev­ery­one, and the Porirua com­mu­nity.’’

Ms Gains­ford comes well qual­i­fied and is not ex­actly a new face to Porirua. She has 30 years in var­i­ous teach­ing and man­age­ment roles, in­clud­ing five years as Porirua Col­lege deputy prin­ci­pal, a stint as na­tional pres­i­dent of the Post­Pri­mary Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion and, more re­cently, as deputy prin­ci­pal at Welling­ton East Girls’ Col­lege.

She says she was thrilled to be awarded the job and can’t wait to get her feet un­der the desk. Once the clam­our of the new school year has set­tled, Ms Gains­ford says it is im­por­tant staff and the BOT get their new ‘‘strate­gic plan’’ for the school’s fu­ture un­der­way.

This will in­volve cur­ricu­lum changes as well as phys­i­cal as­pects of the school be­ing up­graded. She ul­ti­mately wants to bring NCEA re­sults up across the school, too.

‘‘We’re go­ing to do a full com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion to for­mu­late the new plan for the next three to five years, I think it’s im­por­tant for the com­mu­nity to be in­volved. We’re look­ing at prop­erty de­vel­op­ment – this is a beau­ti­ful site and we have room to move – and re­fur­bish­ing build­ings, we have a new uni­form and new IT and wire­less com­ing in. It’s about in­vest­ing in our stu­dents and it’s ex­cit­ing to be a part of. Aotea is re­ally go­ing for­ward.’’

The au­di­to­rium, Te Manawa, will be up­graded to seat up to 500 peo­ple for ma­jor school and com­mu­nity events, Ms Gain­ford says.

The chal­lenges Ms Gains­ford sees in­clude the roll, with the decile five school at its peak of just un­der 1000 stu­dents. She says with the Aotea and Whitby sub­urbs con­tin­u­ing to grow, the col­lege needs to ex­pand.

There is also the thorny is­sue of par­ents send­ing their chil­dren to schools in Welling­ton.

‘‘It’s im­por­tant for this school to be sup­ported by this com­mu­nity. My view is that if you live in this area, you learn here. We have a zone and you have to re­spect that.’’

Although liv­ing in Is­land Bay, she is look­ing at mov­ing to Porirua per­ma­nently. In fact, the daily com­mute from the south coast is the only as­pect of the job she is not ex­cited about.

Rar­ing to go: Kate Gains­ford is con­fi­dent she will pro­vide the ‘‘surety of di­rec­tion’’ re­quired to lead Aotea Col­lege into the fu­ture.

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