South Featherston School pupils sang a song of welcome to new principal Tana Klaricich and new teacher Chloe Young during a powhiri at the small rural school yesterday.
Acting principal Peter Hull handed over the reins at the welcoming ceremony, which also included the roll of 65 pupils, the school Board of Trustees chairman William Levack and a gathering of parents, staff and well-wishers.
Former principal Margie Sutherland stood down from the decile 6 school last year and took up a post as the first female principal at Bunnythorpe School in more than a century.
Mr Hull said pupils and staff at South Featherston School were looking forward to "learning and sharing knowledge" with Mrs Klaricich and Ms Young and said both would "love our community and its people, who support and care for one another".
Mr Levack offered a warm welcome and said the board was "very excited" to have Mrs Klaricich as principal, speaking in praise of the Maori concept of ako, which describes a reciprocity of learning for both the teacher and student in an environment that also involves the whanau and community.
"The word ako means to teach and to learn. I like the idea that teachers may sometimes learn from the student and I like the idea of partnership in education."
Mr Levack said the school recruitment panel "was particularly impressed by Tana's engaging and professional manner" and her wealth of experience was "perfect for a semi-rural school of our size".
"We are lucky to have her."
Mrs Klaricich said she first moved to Wairarapa with her family about 17 years ago and started teaching in 2003 at the former Masterton Central School before also teaching at Gladstone and Alfredton schools. She has family in Masterton and Wellington, and comes to Featherston after a post as teaching principal of the rural Pukeokahu School near Taihape.
Ms Young, a newly minted teacher, comes from work as a teacher aide in the capital and will lead Year 2 to 4 pupils in Room 2 at South Featherston School until the end of the year to cover for Emma-Jane Tadamasa, who is on maternity leave.
Mrs Klaricich said she was a firm believer that "it takes a village to raise a child ... and children learn best when they know there is a village around them".
She said a key focus for her at Pukeokahu School was to "identify creative ways to combat the isolation of the area through online learning, involvement in district sporting events, close collaborative planning and teaching with other small isolated schools, and lots of cultural trips away" and she was keen to mirror that focus at South Featherston School.