Southland principal's legacy could become NZ template
In 1965 Jill Baird taught her first class - 47 years later she says "it is time" to retire.
"I have been doing this a long time . . . I did my first year's teaching in 1965," she said.
On Friday Ms Baird finished her 9-and-a-half-year stint as the principal of three Southland Catholic primary schools: St Joseph's, St Theresa's and St Patrick's schools.
But her legacy may become a new national model for the viability of rural Catholic primary schools as discussions in Wellington with key Catholic educators are under way.
"Never before has there been one principal and one board of trustee for three schools," Ms Baird said.
"The idea behind it is to keep the smaller schools viable."
She had mixed feelings about retiring after doing the same thing for so long.
"The highlights are probably the people and the children, I will miss them."
"I was a new entrant teacher, seeing 5-year-olds begin to learn to read and know that they can achieve is quite special."
"From a principal perspective giving the children a pride in themselves and pride in their school."
Ms Baird plans on travelling to Australia and finally getting around to her home garden.
"My house has no garden so that will be my first project," she said.
"Also all my grandchildren are in Australia, so I am going to try to spend time with them."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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