There is just noth­ing like com­ing home


Teach­ing in South Korea was an ex­cit­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for Joanne Burch, but there’s noth­ing quite like com­ing home.

The mother of two has taken up her first prin­ci­pal job in New Zealand at Whaka­maru School af­ter re­turn­ing from a two-year stint in South Korea where she was the se­nior prin­ci­pal of two kinder­gartens and one prep school.

She said she is look­ing for­ward to work­ing with the New Zealand ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem again, one that fully em­braces holis­tic learn­ing.

‘‘Their [South Korea’s] ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is very dif­fer­ent. Ed­u­ca­tion is very im­por­tant to par­ents and they feel that by get­ting the best ed­u­ca­tion aca­dem­i­cally their chil­dren will go on to get the best jobs.

‘‘Even 3-year-olds will have ex­tra lessons and Satur­day classes.’’

She said in New Zealand par­ents un­der­stand it is more about a bal­anced ed­u­ca­tion.

Be­fore Burch ven­tured off over­seas she said she had never taken on a role as prin­ci­pal. ‘‘ That whet my ap­petite and I when I came back I thought I could use those skills I’d de­vel­oped as well as those dur­ing my time as an RTLB.’’

Burch, who lives in Taupo, said the con­cept of Whaka­maru was ap­peal­ing be­cause she had worked with teach­ers there dur­ing her years as an RTLB.

‘‘I think it’s a re­ally nice way for me to step back into New Zealand into a lovely, al­ready well-de­vel­oped ru­ral school.’’

Her vi­sion for the school, which has about 80 pupils and four teach­ers, is to build on the com­mu­nity re­la­tion­ship.

This year is an ex­cit­ing one for Whaka­maru School which will be em­bark­ing on its third year on the Ac­cel­er­ated Lit­er­acy Learn­ing pro­gramme, which brought huge gains in writ­ing last year, Burch said.

It has also been ac­cepted into the Te Reo Maori in English Medium Schools pro­gramme and the In­for­ma­tion Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy pro­gramme.

Both are par­tially funded by the min­istry. ‘‘There’s a lot of work for the staff, but they’re re­ally pas­sion­ate about it.’’

Kiwi wel­come: Whaka­maru School’s new prin­ci­pal Joanne Burch is wel­comed by the ea­ger stu­dents.

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