Happy memories for principal Jungersen
Porirua College principal Susanne Jungersen would have loved the rebuild to have finished earlier.
The principal since 1997, Jungersen has overseen an improvement in academic achievement at the school, along with the $18.5 million upgrade to buildings that began in 2010. She retires in July. ‘‘I’ve been here 20 years [starting as assistant principal in 1996] and it’s a good time to go,’’ she said.
‘‘The school has respectable NCEA results, a good learning environment, fantastic staff and wonderful students, but it’s time for someone else to take the next steps as principal. It wasn’t a hard decision in the end. The time is right.’’
The upgrades to the school’s infrastructure, the first major changes since it was founded in 1968 – award-winning designs featuring air conditioning and better heating, open plan teaching spaces and wireless internet – could have been finished earlier, Jungersen said.
‘‘There has been a little dragging of feet but what we got eventually is a modern school to meet modern needs.
‘‘I don’t think the school would’ve survived without it.’’
The 1990s was a period of great change in education in New Zealand, Jungersen said, as zones were abolished, on the grounds of increasing parental choice.
Education became a commodity, she said.
Going to your local school was just one option, as opposed to the norm, and it had huge ramifications in Porirua.
‘‘It translated to parents shopping around for the best education for their children. It was a painful time for Porirua and we’re still feeling it today. The rebuild has been a great gift in helping turn things around.’’
Jungersen said the academic achievement had been one thing, but seeing young people build relationships with teachers, one another and their community has been the most satisfying part of her 20 years.
Coming from teaching at Wellington East Girls’ and Petone colleges to Porirua was a big learning curve, she said. She still finds it hard to believe it’s 20 years later.
Once retired, Jungersen has plans to ‘‘give voice to the stories of the school’’, putting together a book or other resource.
Porirua College principal Susanne Jungersen and student Olouta Faraimo.