Marriene Langton Principal

Marriene Langton Principal

Friday, January 29, 2010

Jump Jamming in Hanmer January 2010

At the start of the day, Shirley and Rochelle made sure we were awake.We are introducing Jump Jam to our students and we needed to learn the routines too. These two dressed for the part; not so the rest of us. However no-one can question our dedication to the task. At our school it is about Attitude, Adventure and Achievement. We expect our children to find learning fun and an ongoing adventure. If we expect them to do it, we expect to model it. I focused the filming on our leaders in the activity and was very glad I was behind the camera. I'm sure the neighbours wondered what was going on: Jump Jam in the mornings and then we were all singing very loudly to the karaoke version of the movie Mamma Mia on one of the evenings. Sad but true.Life is never boring when the West Spreydon School Team is around.

What About All The Holidays Those Teachers Get?

Nine of our teaching staff spent three days together in Hanmer during the Christmas vacation this year. I thought it would be a challenge for 9 very different people to learn, eat and live together, especially for me as I get a bit homesick and I like my home!
We had a blast: so much laughter, mucking in, sharing and support. I learnt a good lesson for next time: to check out the house first and then to claim the biggest bedroom with the ensuite for myself in the name of The Principal. The sad thing is I allocated all of the bedrooms. It sure is an egalitarian system!
We had some great topics to get our teeth into including: restorative practice; learning intentions and success critreia to focus teaching and student achievement; national standards and the qualities that earmark a teacher as a quality teacher who provides meaningful, quality feedback to his/her students. Last year three of us in the leadership team trained as facilitators in Restorative Practice and we want to make it part of our school wide philosophy and practice.
As ever I am astounded by the professional ability of our teachers as they all had responsibility to prepare and present an aspect of the learning and the standard was incredible. It is a little humbling as I am supposed to be the expert leader and I am surrounded by teachers who constantly raise the bar.
Our Board of Trustees has a little motto " HIGH EXPECTATIONS; HIGH LEVELS OF SUPPORT."
In reality that means that they see the professional learning and development of the West Spreydon Staff as a major focus in the annual budget.
Last year Donna and I attended Learning@School in Rotorua; four teachers attended Ulearn in Christchurch (Donna was a presenter at both); Maata and Suzanne went to the School Leaders Conference in Timaru;I went to several CPPA NZPF conferences and seminars (Suzanne and Maata came to some too. We all ( including part time teachers and teacher assistants) retrained in phonics; some updated or trained in Numeracy, national standards, leadership and school development. Every teacher and one board member has had four days visiting high performance, innovative schools in the North Island on the eTime bus tour.
In 2009 we completed our three year ICT contract through eTime and are well into redesigning our school curriculum.
Our board has also had several training days/nights with the staff and eTime, and with NZSTA.
Some talk; we do it. In fact when I look back we have had phenomenal exposure to quality learning that has changed the life of our school and the ways in which we govern and teach.
The West Spreydon School Teaching Team at Hanmer 2010 on PhotoPeach

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Year 5 & 6 Camp at Woodend 2009 on PhotoPeach

Year 5 & 6 Camp at Woodend 2009 on PhotoPeach

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Support Staff Christmas Breakfast

A great school is comprised of wonderful staff, students,board and parents. They make the Principal (me) look good.
Our support staff are dedicated, funny, hardworking and totally committed to making a difference for the students at West Spreydon School.

They include teacher assistants, clerical staff, special needs assistants and an office executive. Our caretaker Bill and our cleaners Maurice and John are also part of our support staff.

Jacqui, Kaye, Olivia, Barbara, Keri, Debs and Margaret are exceptional people who make the wheels spin at our place.It was a laugh to have breakfast together just before Christmas so we could celebrate a successful year at school. Marg is a new grandmother so that was another reason to celebrate. Of course my grand babies are gifted and beautiful so she will have to work on the bragging.

School Gardens

Our school caretaker Bill has planted and maintained an orchard, native gardens and the children's vegetable garden over many years. He has a large area to maintain.

The orchard has raspberries,blueberries and fruit trees.

This year the vege garden had potatoes, yams, carrots, spinach and cabbage.

I love getting out of the car at the start of the day at school and taking a quick stroll on the orchard and vege side. It calms the soul and reminds me about the lovely environment our school is in. If the worst happened I guess we could harvest tea and dessert from our own little patch of paradise. This year Bill is planning to compost and we will use the compost to condition the soil, feed the plants naturally, build our worm population and to keep moisture in the soil and save on water use.

School buildings get a repaint

The school buildings are having a face lift in the 2009/2010 Christmas holidays with a new paint and colour scheme. We have lovely old character buildings that blend in beautifully to the environment. I think I may have been a bit hasty on the green on the admin but the classrooms look wonderful. Our school caretaker, Bill takes a great deal of pride in the orchard, children's vegetable garden and native gardens.

One day we may get a new school but in the mean time the old buildings are home to some wonderful quality teaching and learning. My office executive Jacqui organizes my week so that I can spend 2 days each week in the classrooms coaching and mentoring my teachers. I learn from them too and I really enjoy seeing the children problem solving and using technology.

The End of an Era

In December 2009 the family of Julian Odering completed a long history and connection with our school. Julian is a key member of the Pool Committee who have a goal to raise $270,000 over the next seven years to ensure our school pools (we have two) are upgraded, warmed covered and a fantastic asset to our school and community.
We will miss Julian around the school. Many of the staff have a long association and fond memories of him, his wife and children. Julian has been generous with his time, elbow grease and resources. His good humour and generosity are part of our school treasures.
The extended Odering family have a generational connection to us and this year a great grand child in the family will start as a new entrant.

Looking Back

The past 18 months have been a wonderful privilege and adventure for me as Principal in our school. There are many highlights:
  • skilled and enthusiastic teachers willing to live our motto of Attitude, Adventure, and Achievement. It is such a joy to have a group of teachers so willing to take risks in new learning always with the children's interests at the heart of the learning. They challenge me to keep growing and learning
  • a positive and affirming ERO report in Nov 2009
  • evidence of student successes
  • wonderful support staff who make our school family complete
  • many school and family fun and adventure days
  • the school pool being revived and used because of a committed group of parents who are working hands on to raise money and do the work.
  • Our Board of Trustees training focussed us on the future of our school and new strategic goals developed to progress our school. I consider myself very privileged to have the support of such a professional and capable board who enable me to do my job.
  • ICT contract and the ways in which we have utilised technology in our teaching to make a difference for our students. We have the hardware and we know how to use it!
West Spreydon School has huge community input from mentors and counsellors, Adventure Programme Youth Workers to dance and drama tutors. We employ a skilled kapahaka and te reo teacher and our hall is used for martial arts groups after school.
This year the One Day School for gifted and Talented students will set up base two days a week in one of our classrooms. This is a new partnership for us and very exciting.