Proud prin­ci­pal ex­its af­ter two decades

North Shore Times - - IN BUSINESS - KASHKA TUNSTALL

Af­ter more than two decades serv­ing both his school and its com­mu­nity, Birk­dale In­ter­me­di­ate School prin­ci­pal Richard Coote has re­tired from the role.

The 63-year-old took up a job at the school in 1986, hav­ing al­ready worked in both high schools and pri­mary schools.

He found that it was chil­dren com­ing into ado­les­cence who were the most ex­cit­ing to teach.

‘‘It’s a very spe­cial age when chil­dren are find­ing their feet and be­com­ing who they’re go­ing to be in the fu­ture,’’ Cootes said.

‘‘They’re very keen to learn and very ex­cited about the world around them and the world out­side their home. They’ve started to look out­ward a bit more … that’s great fun.’’

The warmth of the lo­cal com­mu­nity and its di­ver­sity has kept him at Birk­dale so long, as well as tena­cious stu­dents with a thirst for knowl­edge.

With them in mind, he de­vel­oped a tech­nol­ogy cen­tre and an arts cen­tre dur­ing his ten­ure.

Cootes has been asked to speak and present at con­fer­ences from Aus­tralia to China, and the think­ing-base learn­ing cur­ricu­lum he helped de­velop has been stud­ied by in­ter­na­tional re­searchers.

But the mo­ment that stands out for him is the last Ed­u­ca­tion Re­view Of­fice (ERO) re­port the school re­ceived in 2015.

The ERO team told Cootes, when they went into good schools, chil­dren were highly en­gaged in learn­ing, com­plet­ing tasks teach­ers asked them to.

But Birk­dale stu­dents were highly en­gaged cog­ni­tively, think­ing about and tak­ing charge of their learn­ing.

‘‘That was some­thing spe­cial they noted in our school,’’ Cootes said.

‘‘I think that was one of the proud­est mo­ments. It showed what good kids we had and good teach­ers we had.’’

On Thurs­day, Novem­ber 9, Cootes had his of­fi­cial farewell from the school, with an emo­tional assem­bly where stu­dents spoke about the large and last­ing im­pact he has made.

It was the stu­dents he would miss the most.

‘‘Just that light in the kids eyes when they get some­thing, or they’re ex­cited about some­thing, I’ll miss that. I think all teach­ers live for that mo­ment when the kids’ eyes light up.’’

But Cootes said he’ll be able to find that in his grand­chil­dren’s eyes now, as he en­joys more fam­ily time.

And, maybe, he’ll pop into school ev­ery once in a while, just to say hello.

KASHKA TUNSTALL

Re­tir­ing prin­ci­pal Richard Coote was greeted by a stir­ring po¯ whiri at his farewell assem­bly.

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