College gets new face and a fresh future
For the new principal of Queen Elizabeth College, rolling up his sleeves and stepping into a lowdecile school is a nod to his roots.
Chris Moller was welcomed to his first day at the school with a powhiri on Monday, the first day of term three.
He comes from the role of headmaster at Wanganui Collegiate, which has one of the highest decile ratings possible, but his own background is growing up in a state house in Waitara and learning at a low-decile college.
‘‘I didn’t want for anything, but we didn’t have a lot.’’
Moller is open about QEC challenges, but saidthere is potential to offer pupils a top start.
QEC’s small classes are a strength, allowing pupils at the decile-3 school to have good opportunities for participation.
There is work to do in literacy, numeracy and NCEA achievement, and building pupils’ confidence. Once change begins to show, the school’s credibility will begin to improve, he said.
In December, Moller pleaded guilty to one charge of drink driving. ‘‘It caused me to reflect. It’s not something I’m proud of... You wonder why you do these sorts of things, but I’ve moved on.’’
Part of that reflection was thinking about what he was doing with his life.
He was inspired by John Russell, principal of Naenae College, who in 2016 was named Kiwibank Senior New Zealander of the Year for turning around the reputation and achievements of the Hutt Val- ley school.
‘‘He said: ‘If you have a feeling you should do something [to help], you should act on it.’ I felt at Collegiate we’d made quite big systematic improvements, but the reality is with a school like Col- legiate, it’s going to run pretty well anyway, because of the educational capital of the students coming in.
‘‘I don’t think I’m being unfair saying [QEC’s] needs are quite similar [to Naenae College], so I thought I’d like to help.’’
His next step will be getting to know the school and community, to find out what they want for their school and where its support and strengths lie.
‘‘There’s momentum for change. The staff are keen.
‘‘The vehicle could be sport, it could be culture, it could be IT – I don’t have the answers yet, but you’ve got to work with your community and really work hard to achieve it.’’
New Queen Elizabeth College principal Chris Moller wearing the school’s korowai (cloak) during his welcoming powhiri.