In Christchurch last Thursday evening, John Wright, our very own Principal of Mercury Bay Area School was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the National Principals Area School’s Conference. Koren Topoi, Principal of Coromandel Area School (Te Kura a Rohe o Waiau),
gave the speech on this occasion and it is from this speech, The Informer is quoting.
By Koren Hopoi – a personal tribute
“In 2011 I took an opportunity to become a Deputy principal in an Area School: Onewhero Area School. Coming from big secondary schools, I wasn’t sure I would fit into this type of school or stay for very long. Little did I know back then that I was entering the most complex beast in the education sector.
The myriad of challenges an Area School presents can drive any senior leader to rethink their purpose in education. We all know that effective and accessible Principal Leadership Development can be costly, especially in rural and isolated areas and most learning happens on the job and through the support of trusted and experienced colleagues and mentors. But it is rare to find a mentor who is selfless with their time and knowledge, is willing to share their stories (the good, the bad and the ugly) and who cares that much for your growth and wellbeing that they make regular check-ins, despite having their own issues to deal with.
12 years ago I was lucky enough to meet an Area School Principal who, even back then, was a bit of an Area School legend, John Wright from Mercury Bay Area School.
John Wright is a passionate, dedicated and committed educator who is a fierce and loyal supporter of area schools, and who completely believes in the role they play in our education system.
He (who has also been on the NZ Area School Executive in the past) is about to start his 20th year at MBAS next term. He has seen his kura grow from 500 to 1000 students and throughout this growth John has ensured MBAS remains an Area School and keeps the Area School philosophy strong.
Sadly for them and us, John won’t complete his 20th year as he has decided that the time is right to look at ‘what is next’ for him and his beautiful (and staunch supporter), wife, Jan.
I know I am not the only one sitting in this room who feels that without John, they may not have stayed in education, let alone progress to Principalships.
I know I will feel this loss greatly, but I also know that through his epic support, his wise words, his encouragement, his passion for life-long learning, his sharing of knowledge, his advice when times were tough, and through being not only a professional colleague, but also his friend, he will still have an everlasting impact.
Thank you John for enabling me to learn, grow and follow my dreams. I will be forever grateful.”
A message from John’s senior leadership team and staff read to the gathering.
When John first came to MBAS, he came from a secondary background. He made it his mission to spend time and develop his understandings of the needs of ‘primary and intermediate’ students and staff. He makes and takes the time to visit and connect with all of our students and their appreciation of this is evident in the way they respond when they see him, at kura or elsewhere. “Hey Mr”…! “Papa Hone” Uncle John”, and he pretty much knows all of their names!
Our Senior leadership team, staff and community appreciate the incredible effort he has put into leading our area school. He (and we) have been so successful that a lot of our community do not realise the opportunities available to our children simply do not happen in other places, because they do not have leaders who are willing to persevere to get to “yes”. We can not adequately quantify the contribution he has made to education in general, let alone to area schools specifically. We appreciate him and we appreciate the Area School Association recognizing his incredible personal and professional contributions. It is richly deserved. We wish we could have been there to celebrate with him. Please video the singing that is sure to happen and share with us!
Pictured: Principal of Mercury Bay Area School, John Wright, who last weekend received
a Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Principals Area School’s Conference in Christchurch.