After four decades at Paraparaumu College, deputy principal Sharon Gilman departs at the end of the term.

Sharon, still motivated to do the job, felt the time was right to leave as her eyesight was getting worse.

She was diagnosed legally blind 30 years ago but there had been deterioration in the last three years.

"As I said to staff, 'Harry Potter went to magic school, and Sharon Gilman is going to cane school'."


After graduating from Christchurch Teacher's College she was appointed to the college in 1980 as an assistant teacher of home economics and science.

By 1982 she was appointed third form dean, became careers advisor and sixth form dean in about 1985, appointed assistant principal at the end of 1988 and then deputy principal in 2000.

Sharon, who took two years out in the early 2000s to complete a master of business administration, had enjoyed working with a wide range of young people.

"What's unusual about a school is you've got a large group of highly motivated young people, at the start of their lives, that are positive."

She has been passionate about students achieving academically but also "all the other experiences — the art, the sport, the culture, the leadership".

"And you don't have to pass something to learn something."

Young peoples' self management skills and confidence nowadays was "incredible".

"We've improved in education considerably and it's less about power and control.


"There's less conflict and it's a more relaxed environment."

Working with others who were similarly passionate had been important.

"There's such a large teaching and support staff who are a motivated group because they want to work with young people."

Moreover being a mentor for beginning teachers had been "an absolute highlight".

Sharon had enjoyed working collaboratively with students, parents and teachers using creative problem solving skills.

"You've got to get people on the same page so they understand the other person's point of view."

The variety of her work meant everyday was different.

"You never know what the day is going to hold.

"It's very challenging, particularly in this senior position, but also very rewarding.

"A day doesn't go by when someone gives you some positive feedback."

And her work had been very intertwined with family including husband Geoff Gilman and their children Emma and Chris.

"The college has been a major part of my life professionally and family wise.

"It has worked very well."

After college life she is keen to get into mediation advocacy work but firstly it will be a time to stop and "smell the roses".

Sharon's last day at Paraparaumu College is Friday September 28.