Cul­tural ideals and warm hearts wel­come head

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Eddie Uluile­lata is get­ting used to the lime­light.

The long-serv­ing Rangikura School teacher and deputy prin­ci­pal was of­fi­cially handed the key to the big of­fice a fort­night ago and is savour­ing the new chal­lenge.

He says his nerves were a bit frayed af­ter the panel in­ter­view at the school.

‘‘I thought I did well but you never know with these things. I had to wait all day and then I was asked to come back down to an­swer more ques­tions. I said ‘Do I have to get into my suit again?’ When I came back, they sat me down and said ‘when can you start?’’’

Dozens of con­grat­u­la­tory texts, Face­book mes­sages and phone calls have fol­lowed, along with news­pa­per and tele­vi­sion in­ter­views. Mr Uluile­lata is get­ting used to hav­ing that smile fixed in place.

Now the real work starts. He says it is a case of keep­ing the ship on the right course, ad­her­ing to the cul­tural ideals he helped in­stil as a teacher and se­nior school leader, along with con­tin­u­ing to raise the aca­demic achieve­ment.

His philoso­phies and prin­ci­ples as a teacher and school leader are res­o­lute.

‘‘It’s over­whelm­ing at times but I’m sur­round­ing by amaz­ing peo­ple at this school and our community. Our of­fice staff are in­cred­i­ble. As a prin­ci­pal it’s about hav­ing that col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach, it comes down to how you lead.’’

Pre­vi­ous prin­ci­pal Paul Nees was in the job more than 15 years and Mr Uluile­lata says, all go­ing to plan, he fore­sees a lengthy stint.

While he may be desk-bound, with bud­gets and re­ports oc­cu­py­ing much of his time, he wants to be in­volved with the students as much as he can.

‘‘Some­times you’re buried in work and you look up and it’s 3pm. I re­ally miss the class­room en­vi­ron­ment, that’s where the heart of any school is, so I want to set aside time to get into the classes and say hello to the kids.’’

Rangikura School, with a roll of 345, is known for its in­clu­sive en­vi­ron­ment, clear val­ues and wel­com­ing phys­i­cal set­ting. Par­ents pa­trol the grounds reg­u­larly dur­ing the hol­i­days and students were in­volved in mu­rals placed around the grounds to give it more colour.

‘‘We have big-hearted kids here and the par­ents are gen­er­ous and warm-hearted. Our ideals like hon­esty and re­spect are im­por­tant and students here know what is expected of them, inside and out­side the school.’’

Solid prin­ci­ples: Eddie Uluile­lata has se­cured the prin­ci­pal’s job at Rangikura School af­ter 15 years as a teacher and deputy prin­ci­pal.

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