Coming back from China, new Weber School principal Janine Satchwell has felt very much at home.

When Janine left New Zealand for eight years teaching in Germany and two in China (at Suzhou out of Shanghai), she had been principal at Tiraumea School. The buildings from her former school are now part of the office complex Janine occupies at Weber.

"It's just like coming home," she said.

Janine is from Pongaroa and her parents still live there, while her husband also has rural Tararua roots - he's from Eketahuna.


"I've always admired Weber School and former principal Chris Beetham," Janine said. "Yes, this is a big change from teaching at international schools overseas, but we've always returned home every summer to Pongaroa. We love it."

For the couple's two children, a son who is five and a new entrant at Weber and a three-year-old daughter at preschool, this is the first time they've lived in New Zealand.

"We wanted to be surrounded by values and genuine people and we've already managed to get a lamb, fulfilling a promise made to our children," Janine said.

"I'm so lucky, Weber has amazing facilities and the children here are incredible. There is a strong academic base, but they treat each other well and that's what makes Weber School so special."

With 10 years of international experience behind her, Janine is hoping to encourage her students to look outside and bring the world in.

"It's about the children realising the world isn't so far away anymore," she said.

With 61 students and four teachers, Janine has found the community and staff very welcoming.

"It's been fantastic and so exciting. Curriculum is my passion and I want our students to be asking, 'So what? Why are we learning this?' It's about creating life-long learners, young people who connect and who are active learners.

"I'm also going to be looking at what we can do to prepare our kids through technology and what the next steps are for us.

"Weber might be rural, but we have so many resources we can access. There are so many parents, grandparents and neighbours who can offer so much and our kids see the community as an extension of the school. They have an incredible wealth of knowledge and education is about finding their passions and excitement. I want them excited to come to school and bubbling and then able to share that with their families."

But don't expect big changes at Weber School just yet. Janine said she's taking time before she worries about big changes.

And along with the cultural differences between Weber and her city-based international schools, Janine said it's great to be in an environment where everyone is speaking the same language and all the books and signs are in English.

"The kids run around in bare feet and in clean air and they're able to drink water from the tap. Students here have the ability to play and find their own fun. That's a huge change from my past 10 years."

As if to prove a point, outside in the Weber School playground at lunch time children were racing snails.

"The winner is the snail which gets all its body parts over the line first," Janine's excited son said.