Waitara High gives new principal good vibrations

RIGHT DECISION: New principal Graeme Hood knows the ups and downs of  rural and small schools.
RIGHT DECISION: New principal Graeme Hood knows the ups and downs of rural and small schools.

Graeme Hood knew there was something special about Waitara High School the moment he stepped inside the gates.

Hood replaces former principal Jenny Gellen, who resigned to pursue other ventures after eight years with the high school.

The former Aurora College, Invercargill, deputy principal was blown away by the "positive impression" he felt the moment he walked inside the school.

"There's something here about the school that I knew [I had] made the right decision," Hood said.

The opportunity to tackle new challenges and live in a "nice area" prompted Hood, who was with Aurora for nine years, to move to Taranaki with his wife and two sons.

Aurora is similar to Waitara in terms of its student population and decile rating, Hood said. He is confident the background and skills he gained from working in various "rural and small schools" would serve him well in his new role.

"I know the difficulties and advantages that the schools face," he said.

The school's friendly students and supportive staff have already made Hood feel welcome.

"The students are really friendly, they're open and honest," he said.

"The staff are great, they accepted me with open arms."

Hood will use his first term familiarising himself with the various programmes on offer at Waitara before looking at developing other new initiatives.

"I want to look at the use of digital technology in schools," he said.

"Aurora had a fairly extensive iPad programme and I would like to see how similar opportunities can exist here."

Hood also said he wants to develop Waitara into a place where students can get the "opportunities and experiences" needed to move into their next stage of life.

Hood, originally from Christchurch, spent a large portion of his career in the Canterbury region as a head of department, dean and subject adviser.

Taranaki Daily News