Proud principal exits after two decades
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.
Retiring principal Richard Coote was greeted by a stirring po¯ whiri at his farewell assembly.