Wet wel­come for new prin­ci­pal

Marlborough Midweek - - OUT & ABOUT - CARLY GOOCH

Wither­lea School’s new prin­ci­pal is look­ing for­ward to her un­of­fi­cial in­au­gu­ra­tion – soggy sponges launched at her at the school’s pop­u­lar gala.

An­drea Har­nett took over from Mur­ray Hew­son who served 27 years as head of the school be­fore re­tir­ing.

Now, fresh from Palmer­ston North, she’s pick­ing up where Hew­son left off, with plans to de­velop col­lab­o­ra­tive teach­ing and new learn­ing meth­ods.

Har­nett was pre­vi­ously the prin­ci­pal of a small coun­try school be­fore be­com­ing a deputy prin­ci­pal in a very big school where there were no sin­gle cell class­rooms.

‘‘I’ve been sort of de­vel­op­ing that in con­junc­tion with my prin­ci­pal, we’re firm be­liev­ers that if it’s done right ... it can work magic for kids.

‘‘It may be the next step here.’’

Har­nett said they were al­ready try­ing out col­lab­o­ra­tive teach­ing at new en­trant level.

‘‘That will prob­a­bly be the first build­ing we change.’’

Wither­lea School is aim­ing to move to­wards an in­no­va­tive teach­ing and learn­ing prac­tice, and the gala is set to help fund that.

Or­gan­iser and par­ent Tash Ste­wart is in­volved in her third school gala this year.

‘‘It’s a huge com­mu­nity event. The at­mos­phere’s cool, the school just buzzes, it’s re­ally cool.’’

One stall in par­tic­u­lar is a real draw­card for the adults, Ste­wart said.

‘‘When you see them all lined up at the gate at 10.50am it’s like ‘Oh my God!’. They want to get in to trash and trea­sure so they want to get in first.’’

Amongst the mar­ket stalls, en­ter­tain­ment in­cludes mini golf, a bouncy cas­tle, toi­let roll toss and soggy sponge which en­cour­ages gala-go­ers to throw a wet sponge at Har­nett and teach­ers.

Ste­wart said Har­nett asked the as­sem­bly who was go­ing to throw a sponge at her ‘‘and 400 hands went in the air’’.

She said last year $34,000 was raised and she hoped that could be equalled this year.

The money raised will go to­wards shade struc­tures for stu­dents to take their learn­ing out­side the class­room.

Har­nett said the school couldn’t do these things with­out the help of the com­mu­nity.

‘‘It’s a huge gala, very pop­u­lar. The com­mu­nity’s been amaz­ing. The whole com­mu­nity – busi­ness, fam­i­lies. It’s in­cred­i­ble how they’ve got be­hind it so we’re very lucky.’’

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