Principal's eight years filled with good memories

"People have negative views about Waitara. Until they come here and it's nothing like they envisage it to be."

MICHELE ONG
Last updated 05:00 11/04/2014
jenny gellen

It's goodbye: PrincipalJenny Gellen, of Waitara High School, is retiring after eight years.

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Jenny Gellen did not think the time to say goodbye to Waitara High School would creep up on her so quickly.

Gellen announced her resignation in November at last year's senior prizegiving ceremony to a stunned audience and said standing down was something that had been on her mind for a while.

"When I announced it in November, it felt like ‘yes, OK, there's still time to think about it' but now it's ‘my gosh, there is so much to do'," Gellen said.

Next Thursday marks Gellen's last day with Waitara before she packs up for Masterton to take up a role as acting principal with Makoura College.

"But it's only for one term," Gellen said.

"It's similar to Waitara High with its awesome kids and awesome staff."

Graeme Hood, of Invercargill's Aurora College, replaces Gellen.

Gellen's eight years at Waitara were filled with "lots of good memories" and she was "sad yet excited" about her new journey.

For Gellen, it was knowing the positive difference she had made in each student's life which made her feel everything had been worthwhile.

She was proud of her students who had "changed the cycle" by choosing to excel academically and going on to pursue a tertiary education.

"They may be the first one in their family to do so," she said. "Those are the ones that you think ‘that's been worth it'."

Asked if her students "squirrel away" whenever she passed them in the corridors, Gellen said it only happened if they were in trouble.

Watching her students enter as 13-year-olds and leaving as "magnificent young adults" was something Gellen treasured.

"It's a really neat thing," she said.

Year 13 student and deputy head girl Eveline Moala said Gellen was the only principal she knew throughout her high school life in Waitara. "It's quite sad to see her go," she said. "She interacts with us and doesn't sit holed up in her office."

Gellen said she was grateful to the community for the support they had shown her over the years.

"People have negative views about Waitara. Until they come here and it's nothing like they envisage it to be."

Gellen will resume her position as Taranaki Sports chairwoman once her time with Makoura College is up.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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