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Honouring long-serving teaching staff

St Paul's Collegiate School —

At a special assembly held on Friday 18 October 2019, we paid tribute to eight members of our teaching staff who have given 20 plus years of service to our school. Each of them was presented with an Independent Schools of New Zealand (ISNZ) Outstanding Service Award by ISNZ Executive Director, Mrs Deborah James. The following are some of the highlights of their time within St Paul’s Collegiate School:

PETER GILBERT 1979 – 2019

40 years of outstanding service to Sports and Cultural Activities and Pastoral Care

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Mr Gilbert joined the staff of St Paul’s Collegiate School on 10 September 1979 (beginning of the third term) as a Physical Education teacher. Within 12 months (ie in September 1980) he was promoted to Head of Department Physical Education, a position he held until he handed the batten to Mr Craig Hardman in 2011. He has also held the title of Sports Coordinator (1992), been a member of the SLG (2010), a Liaison Coordinator for the School of Education and became the DECA (Director of Extra-Curricular Activities) in February 2005 – a role he holds to this day. Mr Gilbert has ‘dabbled’ in the management of the school also, having taken on the role of Acting Deputy Headmaster in the second half of 2009 (five months from September through January), while Mr Chris Luman was Acting Headmaster (before the arrival of Mr Grant Lander) and has many times very capably stepped up into the Acting Assistant Headmaster role to cover when the Headmaster has suffered ill health and needed to be absent for extended periods. Such has been Mr Gilbert’s efficiency and effectiveness in these roles, that in 2018 he was officially promoted to a fulltime Assistant Headmaster status with particular oversight for lateness to school, after school detentions, as well as the management and liaison with the increasing numbers of Te Amorangi scholars.

Mr Gilbert has also been an amazingly committed and passionate member of the pastoral care team, despite having needed to change his loyalty from one house to another at various times over the years. Over a 25-year period, Mr Gilbert has been affiliated with the Day House community; firstly in 1984 he was an Assistant Housemaster in Hamilton House under the then Housemaster, Mr Pat Chamberlain; then he had ten years (September 1988 – 1998) as Housemaster of Hall House – which had three different homes during his tenure and at its peak, reached 120 boys; then in 1999 he became the founding Housemaster of Fitchett House (until March 2005). Over those 25 years, Mr Gilbert gave tirelessly of his time towards ensuring that the pastoral care needs of hundreds of students were well catered for and that they felt heard, that their wellbeing was important and that they were reaching their true potential.

Mr Gilbert has had a huge involvement in both the sporting and cultural cornerstones over the duration of his tenure. A keen rugby man, Mr Gilbert was the coach of the 1st XV rugby side from 1980 – 1984, when the team had memorable wins against schools such as King’s College and Brisbane Boys’ College, breaking a long drought. He has also organised and coordinated events such as the July 2010 NZSS Regional Rugby Tournament. Mr Gilbert has also been the Master-in-Charge of Tennis – a game which he is also passionate about. In June 2014, Mr Gilbert embarked upon a sabbatical that saw him visit five schools (3 in Australia and 2 in New Zealand) to investigate their approaches to the correlation between High-Performance Sport and Academic Rigour. Mr Gilbert has organised students in the Stage Challenge events that were once a feature on the cultural calendar and most memorably has organised, produced and ran auditions for the highly acclaimed Celebration of Music events (originally known as the Musical Extravaganza) that have been held since 2003.

As you can see, Mr Gilbert is the master of ‘reinvention’, and over his 40-year tenure, he has taken on a large number of roles (and titles – his business cards could wallpaper a room!), but in each and every one of these positions held, Mr Gilbert has given 100% commitment, loyalty and dedication, not only to the role he has held but to the school overall and for that, we salute you Mr Gilbert and thank you for your outstanding service.

PAUL WILSON 1988 – Present

31 years of outstanding service to teaching, careers counselling, pastoral care and athletics

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Mr Wilson joined the staff of St Paul’s Collegiate School in January 1988 (i.e. Term One) as a teacher of Physical Education and also the minor subjects of Social Studies and Geography. Upon his arrival at the school, Mr Wilson took on the coaching of the 1st XV and continued in this role for six years (i.e. until 1993). Mr Wilson’s teams got better and better, sharing the quadrangular tournament 14-14 in 1992 and winning the tricolour trophy, for the first time, from Fraser High School in 1993 and holding it for eleven matches. They also beat Hamilton Boys’ High School for the first time in seven years. The 1993 XV was selected for the national top four tournament, beat Southland BHS, but lost to Wesley in a great match 13-7. After such an outstanding season, Mr Wilson wisely knew you should go out on a high. He was also an extremely skilful athletics coach and is still training our athletes to this day. His technical expertise and insistence on fitness have brought considerable success to his charges, including NZSS titles. It may not be generally known that Mr Wilson was the holder of the New Zealand record for running backwards! He also did a stint at coaching the ski team in both 1992 and 1993. Due to his passion for sport in general, he was assigned the role of Master-in-Charge of the Gymnasium Complex in 1992.

In his first year at the school, Mr Wilson was an Assistant Housemaster in Hamilton House (1988 - 1992) and in 1993, for one year only, he was the Housemaster of School House, when it was still a boarding house – although it should be noted that it only had 12 boarders in it that year due to its pending closure; before moving on to take on Sargood Boarding House in 1994, where he continued as the House leader for the next seven years. In 1999, Mr Wilson held the title of Senior Housemaster and was also made the Director of Sports. After a brief sojourn away from the rigours of pastoral care and having readjusted to living offsite, Mr Wilson took on the position of Hall House Day Housemaster in 2002, where he worked closely alongside the young men in his care for a period of 14 years – giving up his reign at the conclusion of 2015.

Another master of reinvention, like his close friend Mr Peter Gilbert, and addicted to the area of pastoral care, Mr Wilson moved in 2016 into the area of Careers Advisor, where he has assisted our senior students in their pursuit of where their life journey should be heading. This is an extremely important role in any secondary school, especially given the complexity of and ever-changing nature of careers in general.

Mr Wilson has also been the staff member who holds responsibility for the organisation of the annual Leavers’ Dinner since 2007, a task that he originally shared with his close friend and fellow athletics coach, Mr Gary Henley-Smith, until Gary left to take up a Director of Boarding position at Scots College in Wellington in 2016. This special event on the school calendars for Year 13 students is not an easy task to coordinate and organise, and there are many hours spent on the logistics involved in ensuring that the night goes off well, the guest speaker turns up (and is someone worth listening to) and that all those for whom this is one of their final formal functions within the school feel that they have been “sent off in style”. Mr Wilson fulfils this role in a very committed, dedicated and determined manner. He knows the importance of this function, and he knows his audience because he has worked alongside them throughout their St Paul’s experience. He has also been involved in the organisation of the annual social highlight, the School Ball, for a number of years and as with the Leavers’ Dinner, he works alongside our seniors to ensure the night is a huge success.

We thank Mr Wilson for his efforts on behalf of our students over the past 31 years and look forward to the next decade! No pressure Mr Wilson.

CRAIG MORTON 1995 – 2019

24 years of outstanding service to teaching, pastoral care and rugby coaching

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Mr Morton was employed by St Paul’s Collegiate School as the HOD Geography and Social Studies commencing in Term 1, 1995. He is an innovative and enthusiastic teacher who puts a strong emphasis on fieldwork. He brings to life the subject of Geography for his students and through his passion for the subject he has lifted the results in this subject area in NCEA and his Scholarship results have been impressive.

Mr Morton is a first-class rugby coach, who from 2001 produced winning teams. Mr Morton coached the 1st XV from 2001-2005 and again in 2007. Since moving away from the top team, Mr Morton has continued to be heavily involved in this code, taking a number of more junior teams over the years and sharing the benefit of his knowledge to draw out the hidden talents in our smaller boys who aspire to be in the 1st XV. Mr Morton has also been the manager and a coach of boys’ tennis over a number of years.

Mr Morton was the Assistant Housemaster of Williams Boarding House from 2001 – 2004 and of Sargood House for the first six months of 2010, before taking over as Housemaster mid-year when the incumbent, Mr Geoff Dell left for a job offshore. Mr Morton held the Housemaster role until the end of 2011 when he and his family decided that living onsite was no longer for them.

Mr Morton has always given every facet of his time at St Paul’s, whether it be in the classroom, on the sports field or in the pastoral care arena his utmost devotion and his gregarious sense of humour and positive outlook on life have seen him forge close working relationships with his students and strong friendships with his fellow staff. We are indebted to Mr Morton for his contribution over the past 24 years and wish him well in the next chapter of his life – whether Mr Morton can really settle into retirement remains to be seen, as he is so very young at heart!

MICHAEL GROOM 1996 – Present

23 years of outstanding service to teaching and football coaching

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Mr Groom was employed by Steve Cole as an English teacher in 1996 and is described as a wonderful “story-teller” who inspires students through his positive and uplifting style of teaching. He communicates his feeling for language and especially for literature and is a rarity in that he can bring the most reluctant young man on board with what he is trying to teach and make it sound so exciting and visual through his teaching style, that they really don’t know they are in fact, learning.

Mr Groom has, in a previous life, played professional soccer in the United Kingdom, and later for New Zealand, which was a secondary attraction when Steve Cole brought him onto the St Paul’s staff. He took over the coaching of the school’s 1st XI, and in 2007, he produced the best ever team, which played in the national tournament. He has been the mentor for a number of young men who have gone on to greatness on the professional football stage, playing for overseas teams. Mr Groom puts great emphasis on flair and enjoyment of the game of soccer, and this is reflected in his coaching style.

Mr Groom has also nurtured the sport of futsal within the school and through his personal training schools, held on the St Paul’s grounds, and within our gymnasium, Mr Groom has showcased St Paul’s to huge numbers of families, many of whom have gone on to enrol their sons in the school.

Mr Groom is a mesmerising man who can make the most mundane scenario seem like something that you can’t miss being a part of – the way in which he uses descriptive prose to describe a game of soccer can make it seem like it was something that should have been televised, even when in reality, it was a washout! His enthusiasm for English, soccer and life in general are infectious and a delight to behold. We have been extremely fortunate to have someone of Mr Groom’s calibre on staff for such a long tenure, and we look forward to continuing to see his face in the staffroom for many more years to come.

IAN CAMPBELL 1998 – Present

21 years of outstanding service to teaching, pastoral care and clay target shooting

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Mr Campbell joined the staff of St Paul’s Collegiate School at the beginning of the 1998 academic year as a teacher of Geography and Social Studies. During his tenure, he helped St Paul’s gain accreditation to offer a Tourism course and more recently undertook research during his sabbatical to look at re-contextualising Tourism to an Achievement Standards course.

Mr Campbell has been the Master-in-Charge of Clay Target Shooting since 2006 and has worked alongside our students over a number of years as they perfect their aim and improve their skills in this demanding sport. He has taken groups of St Paul’s shooters to many competitions, including travelling to Australia in 2009 with a group of young men. Prior to moving his attention to this sport, Mr Campbell was an effective coach of both cricket and rugby.

However, it is Mr Campbell’s outstanding and enduring contribution to the pastoral care of the boys in Hamilton House that is most amazing. Taking on the role of Housemaster of this day house in July 1999, Mr Campbell has cajoled, motivated, commiserated and empathised with a large number of young men who have passed through the House. For the past 20 years, he has been a mentor, role model and sometimes a father figure to the boys in his care, and he shows no sign of stopping anytime soon!

We are extremely grateful to Mr Campbell for his contribution and commitment to the welfare of our students and in particular the boys of Hamilton House. His persistence, dedication and genuine desire to grow these boys into good men is something that is inspiring to those who are coming up through the ranks and who aspire to enter the pastoral care arena.

ROBERT ALDRIDGE 1999 – Present

20 Years of outstanding service to teaching, cycling and multisport

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Mr Aldridge first came to St Paul’s Collegiate School in Term 1, 1999, when he was employed as HOD Languages, firstly teaching Japanese and in more recent years French. Mr Aldridge applied for and gained a MOE Language Immersion Award that saw him spend the period from September 2015 through to February 2016 living in France and literally immersing himself in all things French. He has taken groups of our students who are studying French to New Caledonia to experience the French lifestyle and language in person, to further inspire them to continue with their studies. Mr Aldridge has been coordinating the annual Joso Gakuin School visit that we saw in operation yesterday, which is a demanding logistical exercise. Mr Aldridge has also been the school’s liaison with Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (or Correspondence School), assisting students with their distance learning in a variety of subjects not covered in our own curriculum.

Mr Aldridge has been aligned with Fitchett House over a number of years and stepped up to the role of Acting Assistant Housemaster for two terms in 2011 when Dr McGrath had a leave of absence.

Mr Aldridge is a very fit, active and athletic gentleman who enjoys pushing his own body to the very limits of endurance, which is evidenced by the number of times he has competed personally in the New Zealand Ironman Triathlons held in the Taupo region. It is therefore unsurprising that he spends many hours working alongside our multisport athletes and assists them with their training for participation in multisport disciplines such as Triathlons and Duathlons. He has also coached squash and table tennis.

Mr Aldridge is a quiet, gentle and softly spoken man, who rarely raises his voice. He goes about his work calmly, methodically and always conducts himself in a most dignified manner. Mr Aldridge is a valued member of the St Paul’s staff, and we are very grateful to him for the way he is prepared to step up when the need arises. He has been a reliable member of our teaching team, who seeks no fanfare or glory for himself, but delights in seeing the students he works with being rewarded for their efforts.

NEIL MUIRHEAD 1999 – Present

20 years of outstanding service to teaching, pastoral care and hockey coaching

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Mr Muirhead was welcomed onto the staff of St Paul’s Collegiate School in Term 1, 1999 when he joined the hard-working staff within the Mathematics department. For a period of time, 2002-2003 he took on the role of Acting HOD Mathematics, which he shared with Gary Judkins.

Mr Muirhead was a member of the timetabling team from 2003 – 2012 and performed this task as he does most everything – i.e. with a smile and good humour. Timetabling is a mystery to many, as it is effectively like putting together a large jigsaw puzzle, but for someone with Mr Muirhead’s mathematical talents, this logistical nightmare was ‘just another day at the office’.

Mr Muirhead has coached both boys and girls hockey for a number of years and also took a turn at managing the girls’ tennis team.

Mr Muirhead has earned his stripes in the pastoral care arena with a three-year tenure as Housemaster of Williams House from 2004 – 2006, followed by a slower pace of life as Assistant Housemaster of Clark House from 2009 – 2011. Despite stepping away from the boarding lifestyle briefly, he was beckoned back when the staff member who replaced him as Assistant in Clark House, left unexpectedly at Easter 2013 and he returned to the role which he then held until the conclusion of 2014. Having decided that living onsite was something he enjoyed, Mr Muirhead then stepped up as Housemaster of Clark House, a position he retained for the next three years 2015-2018. In 2019, Mr Muirhead has stepped away from his pastoral care role, but within a short period of time, he has quickly realised that he has a passion for this area of school life, which saw him recently apply to take over from Mr Gibbs as School Housemaster from the beginning of 2020.

Working with young people, whether it is as a teacher, a sports coach, a mentor or a Housemaster, Mr Muirhead is ‘in his happy place’. He has a good sense of humour and gains great satisfaction from seeing his students growing into well-rounded members of society and knowing that he has played a pivotal role in their development. We thank Mr Muirhead for his considerable contribution over the past 20 years and look forward to enjoying his company at St Paul’s for many more years to come.


20 years of outstanding service to teaching, pastoral care and cricket coaching

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Mr Littlejohn joined the staff of St Paul’s in Term 1, 2000 as a fulltime teacher of Commerce and Mathematics. But prior to that time, he worked part-time for 18 contact hours per week from the beginning of October 1999 to cover the classes of the teacher he was hired to replace. Apart from a year’s absence (i.e. from Term 2, 2009 – Term 2, 2010) when he and his family travelled to Ireland to live, he has been teaching our young people the intricacies of Accounting and Economics and encouraging their entrepreneurial talents through his Enterprise Studies classes.

After a year in the school, Mr Littlejohn stepped up into the role of Assistant Housemaster of Fitchett House and was Deputy to Mr Gilbert from 2000-2002. Having experienced pastoral care in a day house environment, Mr Littlejohn was lured into the boarding environment by Mr Lander to take on the position of Deputy Headmaster from 2015-2017, where he teamed up with Mr Muirhead to provide a formidable duo to lead Clark House.

Mr Littlejohn loves all things cricket – so much so that at one time as well as coaching the sport, he also took on the role of groundsman responsible for preparation and maintenance of the school cricket wickets, which he did in his spare time. Mr Littlejohn coached the 1st XI cricket team for six years straight, has been Master-in-Charge of cricket and also coached various other teams as and when required. However, as they say, all good things must come to an end, and at the end of Term 1, 2016, Mr Littlejohn walked away from cricket. (How long for remains to be seen! We’re fairly sure that we can lure him back in the future.)

Mr Littlejohn has also been Master-in-Charge of Squash and Teacher-in-Charge of Rowing in recent years. Mr Littlejohn is a natural sportsman himself and is very competitive, as are the young sporting dynamos that are his own children. He is hugely supportive of their respective disciplines and takes great pride in their achievements.

We are most grateful to Mr Littlejohn for being happy to step-up when asked, to cover areas we have needed plugged. He does so with good grace, good humour and a ‘can do’ attitude. Mr Littlejohn is a real team player and can be relied upon to give of his best in all he undertakes.

These eight men have contributed a combined 199 years of service to St Paul’s Collegiate School. They have wholeheartedly immersed themselves into the various cornerstones of our school and given a large percentage of their lives to working with our young people. The majority of them have had a child go through the school as students – sometimes more than one. For many, their families have grown up on-site, and St Paul’s has been their home. However, the one thing that each of them has in common is that they have been personally invested in this fine institution and in growing the young men and women they have worked alongside into the best versions of themselves that they can be. For them, their role at St Paul’s is more of a vocation than a job. We owe them all a debt of gratitude for their dedication, their commitment, their loyalty and their hard work.