By Steve Carle
Pahiatua School will lose its principal at the end of this term when Lynne Huddleston retires after 19 years at the helm.
She came to the school in Term 4 as principal in 2002. She introduced a number of changes including the approach to learning developed by John Hattie, a New Zealander world-renowned for his thinking.
Children were taught to take charge of their own learning, knowing where they are, their next learning steps and how they're going to get there.
"We work to keep up with changes at Pahiatua School and do the best we can for kids," said Lynne.
"There's been a lot of changes over the years with teachers working to provide the best opportunities. Kids are all different and they need different approaches.
"Quite a few bricks and mortar changes have been made to the school over the years. But we weren't worried about size (we did grow) rather doing the best we could for children.
"The school roll has grown from 235-240 in 2002 to between 380-425 in 2021. Owing to demographics of the area, the school roll is expected to go down - a lot of rental housing has been sold to people from Auckland and other places like that who have bought houses. They don't all have children living at home anymore. That will affect the rolls for a time.
"Over the years we've developed a really good team of teachers, it's been a team effort. The kids get involved in a lot of different activities. We make sure the kids are engaged in their learning.
"We're going to have some major building work going forward. Alterations around the office will be made and rooms on the south side are to be renovated to be more suited to the modern style of teaching and learning.
"The big thing will be having a turf between the two blocks so the grass will be replaced with all-weather turf and a big cover put right over the lot. On those drizzly days in Pahiatua they'll still be able to play outside.
"Together with deputy-principal David Jackson, input was contributed as money was made available for three extra classrooms on the end of the southern block. We said we thought we would do something better with that amount of money to give a better space for modern learning and teaching. The Ministry of Education accepted it and were well pleased with the result.
"Over the time it's been a school that's had a good heart in the community with kids and their parents. Growth of really good, solid kids - kids that are involved because they want to - has resulted in a really nice atmosphere - we've got stunning kids.
"We've got a great board of trustees and always have had," said Lynne.
She plans to play golf in the future and to do projects she will have time to do.