After five years at Marcellin College, principal Jan Waalen has moved on to McAuley High School in Otahuhu. Jan’s departure at the end of the third term was rather sudden, and came about after she was approached and asked to move to McAuley, which has been through a difficult few years.
Jan says that she had intended to stay at Marcellin for at least another three years, but when she got the call from Otahuhu she looked at the situation in both schools and realised that at McAuley “There’s a need here.”
She says one of the things that made the decision easier, was that there is now a strong and united leadership team in place at Marcellin, and her departure would not cause any significant disruption. Saying that while five years was not quite long enough for her personally, the fact is that, “Marcellin does not need me.”
An additional attraction was that Jan started her teaching career at McAuley and returning as principal was personally very satisfying. She says that after more than 15 years at ‘co-ed schools, taking on a single sex school with 800 girls was going to be a challenge.
As for her time at Marcellin, Jan says she is very proud that, while she was principal, the school saw a significant rise in academic performance, which as an educator is always the most important goal. She is confident she has left the school in a better place than when she arrived, and that the staff have a clear sense of direction.
Jan is also proud of the way the pupils have taken ownership of the school, including embracing and sharing their own cultures. “They’ve got to know who they are.” Finally, she believes moving away from detentions and a punishment-only regime to instil discipline, to a restorative approach, has led to a much better environment.
Despite the short notice of her departure, Jan says the pupils gave her a great send off. “The last day was beautiful,” she says, and she felt enormously honoured when the school presented with a Korowai to take with her.