Kate Gainsford ready to lead Aotea
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.