School ‘per­fect’, head says


A prin­ci­pal who grew a renowned school from just an empty horse pad­dock is step­ping down while the school is ‘‘on a high’’.

At the end of this term, Sherida Pen­man Wal­ters, 68, will step down as the prin­ci­pal of the pri­vate school Pine­hurst in Al­bany.

She has been there since it be­gan 26 years ago, af­ter re­spond­ing to an ad for a prin­ci­pal placed in the North Shore Times by par­ents. Pen­man Wal­ters was given just three months be­fore the first pupils started.

‘‘It was quite a chal­lenge be­cause the site was a horse pad­dock; there were no build­ings, no re­sources, noth­ing.’’

At the time, Al­bany was a ru­ral part of Auck­land, not the thriv­ing, fast-grow­ing sub­urb it is now. Pen­man Wal­ters said the ‘‘ex­plo­sion’’ of pop­u­la­tion was part of the school’s suc­cess.

It started with just 34 pupils aged 5 to 8. As the foun­da­tion pupils got older, the school ex­panded and it now cov­ers years 1 to 13 with 850 stu­dents.

An­other rea­son for Pine­hurst’s suc­cess was its most fa­mous alumni, Ly­dia Ko, the youngest player to be ranked num­ber one in pro­fes­sional golf.

The school sup­ported Ko while she played over­seas but she was al­ways ‘‘very dili­gent’’.

Pine­hurst opened to of­fer a choice to par­ents of a non­re­li­gious pri­vate school with strong val­ues. It of­fered Cam­bridge qual­i­fi­ca­tions in­stead of NCEA.

Now that ev­ery­thing was ‘‘per­fect’’ at the school, Pen­man Wal­ters de­cided it was a good time to let some­one else take the reins, while she de­cides what to do next.

‘‘The site was a horse pad­dock.’’


Pine­hurst School’s foun­da­tion prin­ci­pal Sherida Pen­man Wal­ters says her 26 years at the school were chal­leng­ing but re­ward­ing.

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