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Children focus for principal

By, Tessa Johnstone

St Teresa's new school principal Karolina Surynt-Tapiki cannot say enough about the welcome she has had from the Featherston community.

"It's been really wonderful, everybody has been so genuinely helpful, supportive and happy."

Three weeks into the job, Mrs Surynt-Tapiki has now set about consulting with the community, including parents, students and teachers, about what the school needs to do to move forward.

"I'm that sort of person, participation is part of being a principal - leading by example and giving people an opportunity to blossom and increase students and staff."

She has got some ideas herself but is staying mum about them until she has got the community on board. Mrs Surynt-Tapiki says having the students of St Teresa's valued is top of her list.

"The students are the core of St Teresa's, and I'd like to see Catholic values and leadership qualities in students. I want students to take an active voice in what we plan." The school roll at St Teresa's grew from 83 when former principal Carol Pilcher came on board, to about 127 when she left.

Although increasing the roll is not a key focus, Mrs Surynt-Tapiki said she would like to see the school using its capacity while retaining the special flavour the school was given by its small size.

Mrs Surynt-Tapiki has been teaching for about 25 years, coming most recently from St Brendan's School in Upper Hutt, where she was deputy principal.

She is commuting over the hill for now, where she lives with her husband and two children, one away at university at the moment.

Asked what has kept her in the profession for so long, her answer is quick - children.

"Children make your day. No day is the same and children bring out the best in people, but I also like the fact that children offer a lot.

"You can learn from children as much as they learn from you."


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