When Norsewood and Districts School principal Phillipa Ellis began reflecting on what the future held with her husband, Roly, standing down from his mayoral position, it was time to reassess her own options.

Earlier, when Tararua District mayor Roly Ellis announced he wouldn't contest the mayoralty again because of ill health, Mrs Ellis indicated she would remain in her principal's position.

"But when I reflected on what Roly would be doing post his mayoralty, I looked at my options," she told the Dannevirke News.

"I have also sprained both my ankles and need to get my health right, because you've got to be fit and well to do the best for your staff and students.


"I thought it was a good time to go with some of the changes in education at the moment, because the direction Government is taking has left with me with real concerns.

The way the Government is directing education is frustrating, especially the amount of paperwork. Teaching is a full-time commitment, with out-of-school stuff and the expectations of the community. It's high pressure."

Mrs Ellis said she feels some aspects of education are moving away from putting children at the centre.

"You know, once if a butterfly flew into a classroom, or a digger drove past, we could develop that moment with the children. But now the time pressure on teachers is huge and a lot of the fun has gone out of what we do."

As well as her teaching and principal roles, Mrs Ellis also worked for four years as a field officer with the NZEI.

"I worked with principals and teachers on advocacy and employment issues in 1997, and through that work I gained an understanding of issues and was also sent up the East Coast to work with principals on assessment resource banks.

"It was during this time I realised how much I was missing being in school with children, so I returned to Wellington to take up a principal's position."

Mrs Ellis has been in teaching for 36 years, working in a range of schools, often as principal.

"I will love it forever, teaching is a real passion and all I've wanted to do since I was 12," she said. "Being able to make a difference to one or two children is something you remember forever.

"However, the amount of accountability isn't matching up with the heart of what we should be doing for the children."

Before she took up the principal's role in Norsewood, Mrs Ellis was principal of Pongaroa School.

And the legacy she hopes to leave behind when she retires at the end of the year?

"Hopefully children know I care for them. I've really enjoyed working with the extension children here, because often the focus is on children at the other end of the scale.

"I've had a fantastic board of trustees and, if they continue as they are, this school will be very, very lucky."

Mrs Ellis is looking towards opportunities to work with her daughter, helping youth into employment and engaging young people in education.

"It's about trying to make a difference," she said.