Tailor-made learning best for students

By Amy Shanks

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FOCUSED: Michael Sisam encourages a well-rounded education. PHOTO/PAUL TAYLOR HBT142409-02
FOCUSED: Michael Sisam encourages a well-rounded education. PHOTO/PAUL TAYLOR HBT142409-02

Michael Sisam took over as Heretaunga Intermediate principal in May, since then he has set positive goals to improve the school short and long term. He shares his education philosophy with Amy Shanks.

1 Give us a short history of your roles before Heretaunga Intermediate?

I started teaching at Maidstone Intermediate in Upper Hutt in 2000. I moved to Frimley Primary School in 2005. I worked as a scale A teacher, before being made team leader, then assistant principal, then deputy principal for three years prior to being appointed principal of Heretaunga Intermediate.

2 What goals have you set for the school, short term and long term?

Increase the roll numbers by creating a positive atmosphere for students, staff, whanau and community.

Ensure that we are the intermediate school of first choice for all our contributing schools of Camberley, Frimley, Mahora, Raureka and Ebbett Park and any other Year 7 and 8 students who live on the western side of the railway line.

Increase the amount of professional development for teachers to be able to provide quality learning programmes for the needs of our students.

Bring high expectations, a sense of pride, and positivity to the name of Heretaunga Intermediate.

3 Tell us what you do differently to other principals?

It is all about the relationship with students, staff, whanau and the community. If all parties are made to feel valued, it helps make the core role of schools, teaching and learning, easier. It also helps build the home-school partnership in creating the right learning environment for individual children.

Taking an interest in the students by working alongside them in the classroom, and on the sports field.

4 What is your education philosophy?

My philosophy is based round the 21st century learner. The use of e-learning, formative assessment, and an inquiry learning approach to engage, motivate and make students responsible for their learning are at the core of my philosophy.

All children's needs are different. Programmes need to be designed to improve weaknesses and build on strengths and interests of each student. At the same time, core life skills of high expectations, self-discipline, and independence need to be forefront of all aspects of education in the school setting.

5 How important is the wider life of the school: sporting, drama and cultural activities?
I'm a keen supporter of children being involved in sport, music, drama, and cultural opportunities, and developing their own interests as a way of helping them be fully engaged in learning. Intermediate schools are the perfect place to provide these experiences as our students transition from primary to secondary school.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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