Hero photograph
Photo by Kate Boyes

Staff Notes 2017

Jon Rogers —

We began the year full of anticipation of construction of our new school. We knew there would be challenges. Not many other schools have to keep functioning normally as they are gradually fenced off, demolished and rebuilt.

At the end of 2016 staff worked hard to clear out spaces which had not seen the dust disturbed since the 1980’s. Several skips full of rubbish and ancient resources were disposed of as we made way for relocated departments. And all the while teachers keep teaching as they also learn how to teach in the new modern spaces we are creating.

Thank you to all the admin and office staff, deans, pastoral, counsellor and health staff, in fact all staff who had to relocate to rather dingy accommodation in D & B Blocks when the Admin Block was demolished in April, as well as find somewhere else to park, often in muddy circumstances. We look forward to better days in 2018.

As usual, we welcomed many new staff at the beginning of the year. There were major changes in Social Sciences with the departure of Richard Allen and Andrew Cooper at the end of 2016. To replace these ‘hard to replace’ colleagues we welcomed Jan Handley, an Auckland refugee, and Jane Turner who joined us from Darfield. Ben Carter, a man of many talents, took on DTE teaching as well as Mathematics although his heart is still in Social Sciences. Ben also took on house leadership and fatherhood in 2018. At the start of term two, it was great to welcome back Laurie Tafau from maternity leave.

Tony Palmer arrived to take on the SENCO role and has accepted the Yr9 dean role for 2018. In the English Dept Sasha Johnson stepped in to take the maternity leave position for  Geraldine Bovett. (It is lovely to hear that Geraldine has secured a permanent position at Rangiruru School for Girls form the start of 2018). Matt Grace was another addition to the English Department. We were grateful to be able to employ Marijo Flores as tutor and teacher aide in ESOL to support our ever-growing Filipino community. Later in the year Maryanne Ducray took up some part-time hours in ESOL and will return in 2018.

Thank you to Robyn Close who stepped up as HOD Digital Tech as  Barbara Climo took leave to retrain in careers counselling. It is pleasing to see that Barbara will return in 2018 as the Careers Teacher. It is equally pleasing to report that Robyn is now permanent HOD of Digital Technologies form the start of 2018.

We also welcomed back Janette Merrin who survived three years in the MOE (or was it the other way round?) as HOD Health and thank Alex Aitken for keeping the department functioning so well. Thanks also to Alex who has hung in at Hornby High, even when there were few hours for her this year. We are pleased to be able to offer a more stable position in 2018.

The Science department also saw some changes with Helen Boothby on a Royal Society Scholarship for terms 1 & 2. Her place was ably taken by Will Naylor until Helen returned in term 3. No stranger to the corridors of Science, Ruth Rhodes also took on some hours in the department.

The J Blockers saw some changes at the start of the year. It needs to be mentioned that the J Blockers have had the most difficult time in 2017 as muddy paths (or no paths at all), noisy construction, well drilling, concrete trucks, encroaching fences and many other distractions have combined to create very trying circumstances at times, but they have soldiered on regardless. Special mention should go to the Yr7 team who have operated on the primary school site with an extra set of challenges brought about by noise and distance. Thank you and well done team.

Mel Lindsay arrived to replace Megan Baker in Yr7 who has taken leave for 2017. It is wonderful to report that Megan has become a mother this year. In this she is not alone as Lynda O’Donnell has also had a lovely baby girl and Marina Shehata will take maternity leave in 2018 in anticipation of starting her family. Ben Carter, now fulltime and permanent, also had an addition to his family late in term 3. Exciting, if sleep deprived, times! We wish them all well.

On the other hand, sometimes various bits stop working as they should as we get older. We were very pleased to see that Roger Murfitt, John Simons & Anna Dunbar took medical leave but returned to us better than ever. Well done, folks.

We were very lucky to appoint Katrina Keenan as Sports coordinator. Katrina has vast experience and passion for sports and has provided many opportunities for our students to participate and excel. Like the rest of the PE Department Katrina has had to endure big shifts as the Sports office, store room and PE changing rooms have all had to relocate as the new gym is built.

Roll growth led to us creating two more classes – one each in Yr 8 and 10 at the end of Term 1. We were able to offer more teaching hours to several part-time staff but we were very pleased to be able to appoint Warren Cain to the Yr8 class and it was wonderful to have  Dianne Alpers back on staff to take up many hours in English, Supported Learning and the junior school.

As we packed up the library prior to demolition in May we also lost our librarian,  Lynda Seaton to Avonside Girls' High Sschool. We were pleased to appoint Nicole Sowman to be our temporary librarian and live in the library cave as we wait for better days in our new, exciting Learning Commons. There were changes in the Art Dept too as Cindy Crampton-Cairns reduced hours to take care of her family. She was replaced by Karin Lange in the Art Dept in Term 3.

The changes continued as the year progressed. We were very pleased for Sue Elley when she was appointed Principal of Belfast Primary in June – however, secretly we wondered how we would cope without her. Sue made the Junior School happen. She was appointed in 2013 when J Block was just a hole in the ground. Sue created the curriculum, set up the classes, helped appoint the staff and set up the procedures and was the key person who made our transition to a Yr7-13 school happen so smoothly. We owe her an enormous vote of thanks for her work and wish her well at Belfast. Sue’s departure provided opportunities for others to step up in term three. We thank these people for their contribution. Following Labour Weekend we were pleased to welcome Simon Scott, Sue’s replacement, who jumped the fence from Hornby Primary and landed in a parallel universe where things were not always as simple as they had been at the primary school.

Looking forward to 2018 we are pleased for Corey Kamariera who has study leave approved for 2018 to complete his Master’s degree. However we were sad to farewell Matua Mike Murray who has decided to stay at Riccarton HS. We are also very pleased record that Laurie Tafau has been appointed to an Assistant Principal position at another Christchurch school for 2018. Congratulations on this wonderful opportunity; it is a well-deserved promotion.

Wendy Toohey retired at the end of the year after 29 years as Careers Teacher at Hornby High School and, as noted earlier, will be replaced by Barbara Climo in 2018. Wendy has headed the provision of Careers Services at Hornby for over 29 years and fully deserves our sincere gratitude. Always positive and full of ideas, she has done amazing work in finding career or course opportunities for generations of students. Careers has become increasingly busy and complex in recent years with the provision of Gateways, Secondary/Tertiary courses, STAR, ART, SPEC and many other initiatives. Wendy has done a fantastic job of managing all these initiatives. We wish Wendy & John a wonderful and well-deserved retirement.

As the year draws to an end we would like to acknowledge the challenges everyone has faced working in challenging conditions throughout the year, the power outages on chilly July mornings, the incessant bells at inconvenient times (or no bells at all!), the muddy paths (or no paths at all). Then there is the tyranny of distance - getting from one side of the school to the other in the mud… and the rain… and the wind – thank you all for your patience, tolerance and resilience.

However the end is in sight as our new school rises from the mud. We look forward to greeting at least twelve new staff at the beginning of 2018 as our roll expands and the number of classes grows. We wish everyone a wonderful and restful Christmas holiday break and look forward to exciting times in 2018.

Jon Rogers
December 2017