When I was offered the opportunity to set up a brand new primary school the feeling was one of excitement and challenge.
Now, at the end of our first year, I find myself reflecting on what I can only describe as being a once in a lifetime opportunity.
It might sound like a cliché, however, when I look at what I’ve had to do over and above the challenges of principalship it truly has been an amazing journey to date.
I was on board for three terms before Clearview Primary officially opened in February 2010. In the first term of the job I was heavily involved with the property and construction phase.
The foot print of the school had already been decided, however, I was able to provide input to the internal features of the buildings. Being one of only three new schools built in the South Island I visited a number of new schools in Auckland to get ideas and a greater understanding of the process of setting up a new school.
I was very mindful of the fact that, in addition to furniture, ICT equipment and resources to purchase, we had a curriculum to write and develop that aligned to the philosophy and vision we had for our children.
But, before we even discussed the curriculum we had to come up with a school name and vision. Staffing the school was also a priority at this time.
An official launch, attended by the local community, was held to unveil the name and vision of Clearview Primary, previously known as Lowes Road School.
Clearview is both a name and a concept. It embraces the vision of skilled thinkers and communicators stepping out with confidence that we have for the school and our students.
In location, situated in the heart of the Canterbury plains, we all enjoy uninterrupted clear views of the mighty Southern Alps. We feel this is home and the name Clearview encapsulates this feeling beautifully.
One of the first things I and the establishment Board of Trustees had to find was to find a place to work from. Commercial spaces were far too expensive to rent so we ended up renting a residential property three minutes drive from the school construction site.
The double garage eventually turned into a storage space for books and resources, and the bedrooms became office spaces for the deputy principal and two team leaders.
Consultation evenings were very important and we had regular meetings to keep our future community informed of the progress and developments.
The Education Review Office was also involved at this time and a review team was contracted to conduct a readiness to open audit.
Term four was extremely busy and much of the time was spent interviewing teachers for the various positions in the school. We were also fortunate to have a number of volunteers (future parents) to help label and catalogue library books and resources and we were also able to appoint an office person who doubled as a library resource specialist.
Towards the end of December parts of the school were handed over to the Board and we were able to start moving in.
In early January 2010 I was back at school to supervise the various companies setting-up and installing furniture, sound systems, servers, computers and many other items.
Due to the nature of establishing a new school we asked our staff to work during their holidays, two weeks before we opened for students. We spent our first day together at Hanmer Springs team building. This was very important and a great way to bring us together as a cohesive unit. The rest of the time was spent information sharing, finalising systems and setting up the homebases for the very first day.
The day before children arrived at Clearview Primary an official site blessing was followed by a powhiri to welcome our new staff. Our parent community was also invited to this ceremony and it was a fantastic opportunity for our foundation students to experience.
On February 2nd 2010, Clearview Primary opened for the very first time. To see all this come together in record time was a very proud moment.
Not only was it a special day for our 171 first day children, it was also special for the 242 foundation children who have joined us over the course of the year. We expect to have 260 foundation children before the year ends.
All stakeholders involved in establishing Clearview Primary have worked extremely hard to make this dynamic educational facility possible.
To try and capture the journey in this many words only really scratches the surface but I hope at the same time it gives readers a glimpse at what has been a fantastic opportunity and an amazing privilege to be involved in something as special and unique as this.
You might be interested in exploring the educational sector further. Speaking of “primary schools”, you might be interested in Primary School on Wikipedia. This article provides detailed information about the concept and structure of primary schools worldwide. Additionally, if you want to delve into the challenges and experiences of establishing a new school, you might find School Administration a helpful resource. It covers various aspects of school management and administration, including setting up new educational institutions.