Viard principal feeling welcome
Rose Sawaya-Baxter says she has already become aware of the generous spirit that exists at Bishop Viard College.
The school’s new principal officially began her tenure at the beginning of term one, but spent time in Porirua in the school holidays, attending an event with students and talking to staff.
‘‘The students are wonderful – so open and honest,’’ she said. ‘‘I’m excited to be here and about the challenges before me.’’
The challenges, she said, included increasing the roll and continuing the upwards trend in NCEA achievement.
Staff were hard-working and had the interests of their students at heart, she said.
Moving from Sacred Heart Girls’ College, a financially stable, single-sex decile 8 school in New Plymouth, to decile 1 Bishop Viard was a big change in setting, Sawaya-Baxter said.
Porirua was part of a larger region, whereas New Plymouth had more of a small town feel.
‘‘There’s differences on many levels and I’ve felt really welcome since I arrived,’’ she said. ‘‘I have six brothers and my grandson lives with me, so I think I’m aware of the great sense of humour boys have, and the way they work.’’
After the surprise departure of principal Teresa Cargo last year, former Wellington High School principal Prue Kelly took the reins temporarily.
Sawaya-Baxter said she hoped to continue on the positive track Kelly had put in place.
Sawaya- Baxter grew up in Island Bay and Miramar and was happy to be living in Porirua after 20 years away from family.
She was deputy principal at Sacred Heart Girls’ College in Hamilton for five years before moving to New Plymouth in 2007.
She is excited to be taking over the school, which impressed her at the O’Shea Shield speech competition in Hastings last year.
‘‘ I saw the way the junior students were speaking,’’ she said. ‘‘The passion and joy they were showing, along with the support, was impressive. It won me over.’’
She has joined the school at a time when a new gymnasium is about to be built – the assembly hall is the temporary gym at present – along with upgrades to many of the school’s buildings.
Sawaya-Baxter said she hoped the new gym could eventually be used by the wider community.
New teaching challenge: Rose SawayaBaxter, Bishop Viard College’s new principal.