With 28 years of teaching and leadership experience in co-educational and single-sex schools, both in England and New Zealand, it is no surprise Helen Armstrong has been appointed the new principal of Iona College.
Reflecting on her new position, Armstrong said "Iona College has a rich history, and I am honoured to be able to lead the college into the future. I have been thoroughly welcomed into the Hawke's Bay community and feel blessed to have been given this opportunity".
Her appointment comes after long-standing and well-respected principal Shannon Warren announced her resignation at the end of last year. Her decision to move back to Australia followed the sudden loss of her best friend, mentor and husband John Warren, who died in a mountain biking accident on Te Mata Peak.
"The whole situation made me really sad," she said. "Everyone was deeply moved and it is something no one will forget."
Armstrong, originally from England, also has an international perspective on education with significant experience in teaching science at a number of top academic schools. She was most recently deputy principal at Baradene College of the Sacred Heart in Auckland and was previously head of science. Before that she was head of faculty of science at Western Springs College.
The first few weeks have been something of a whirlwind for Armstrong, immersing herself in her new role, and in the fabric of Iona, but Hawke's Bay is quickly becoming home for her and her family – having already been asked to represent the region in badminton.
Iona, after a recent run of academic, sporting and cultural successes, is already in a strong position and Armstrong sees her role as helping the school take a step towards the next stage of excellence.
She says a major factor in achieving this is building strong, positive relationships between students and staff, a style of relationship where they work together to achieve desired outcomes.
"I see it as working with the girls, for the girls. It is always about the girls.
"The school's goal of Empowering Girls for Life is evident in all aspects of the school. I hope to inspire students to think critically, to try new things, to further develop their passion for learning, and support them to be the best that they can be in a loving and caring environment."
As well as a focus on academic excellence and wellbeing, Armstrong sees further development of performing arts and sporting excellence as another priority.
"Iona's stellar achievements on the hockey field in recent years have already inspired many girls who play other sports to try and rise to similar heights. The opportunity to perform in the award-winning Blyth Performing Arts Centre is a fabulous experience for our talented musicians, actors and dancers.
"With a focus on high academic performance and wellbeing, and a commitment to the personal development of all students, Iona provides an inclusive education."
It is clear that Armstrong's strong academic background, pastoral experience and her commitment to the co-curricular life of the school will be a real asset to the college.
The Iona College council, board and parents and friends community said they wished Armstrong every success for the future.