It was wonderful to catch up with so many people at our community evening a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to the teachers for extending their school day and staying for the “Eat and Greet”, and, particular thanks to those wonderful teachers who stayed on to look after the children so that parents could focus on the presentations. It is hard doing that at the end of a busy day’s teaching. As usual, our administration team did an amazing job - feeding us, tidying up and keeping things flowing. I was thinking back to the time when our staff was much smaller and we would rush around at community evenings trying to do everything – running activities, feeding people, presenting and cleaning up. It was quite stressful. Now we have a well-oiled machine in which each person does his/her part.
Thanks so much to you, our parents, for foregoing a quiet evening at home after a hard day at work, to come back to school for the community evening. However, it was really obvious that people relished the opportunity to get together and chat. I enjoyed walking around and seeing the animated conversations you were engaged in. Some of us “old timers” (foundation staff and parents) ended up reminiscing about our early community evenings and how we knew everyone by name for the first few years and then it all changed with a couple of years of considerable growth. At the end of this year, our first lot of students who began their schooling at Amesbury School will be leaving. This will be quite a significant event for the school, but particularly for those of us who were here at the beginning.
This led me to think about how many of our foundation staff are still at the school. I counted up nine out of twelve staff who signed on for the February 2012 start, plus Andrea, who feels like a foundation staff member, though she started in 2013. Thanks to Angela, Urs, Lisa, Mike, Demelza, Amaria, Gail, Navy (and me makes nine) who have been on this extraordinary journey from the start. David Waters - Board Chair - has been involved since 2009 as a ministerial appointed Establishment Board member and John Bunting, who was a member of the first parent-elected Board, and has served ever since. Our school has such strength at its foundations. The great thing is that we now have quite a number of other staff and Board members, who though not necessarily there from the beginning, are foundational because of their commitment to the school and their pride in what we do.
This school is not a place where just anyone can work or will want to work. The shift from privatised practice (one classroom – one teacher) to the deprivatised, collaborative practice of innovative learning environments is huge – much bigger than you can imagine. It challenges deepseated and long-standing beliefs about what it means to be a teacher. However, we believe that the transparency of teaching and learning practice that comes with open learning environments and collaborative ways of working is best for children, and, in the long term, will be best for the teaching profession. Education in New Zealand and globally is in churn – we are involved in epochal change - and things will be difficult for a while as it is with all change; but, we need to keep moving forward, because it is only in moving forward and learning as we go that we will end up with an approach to education that truly meets the needs of our 21st century learners.