Cultural ideals and warm hearts welcome head
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.