Col­lege gets new face and a fresh fu­ture

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - KAROLINE TUCKEY

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.’’

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/STUFF

New Queen El­iz­a­beth Col­lege prin­ci­pal Chris Moller wear­ing the school’s ko­rowai (cloak) dur­ing his wel­com­ing powhiri.

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