Glenn Rowsell has loved his job

21:22, Nov 20 2012
Departing principal Glenn Rowsell says his time at Matamata College has been both challenging and a privilege.
Departing principal Glenn Rowsell says his time at Matamata College has been both challenging and a privilege.

When the top job at Matamata College came up 12 years ago, Glenn Rowsell did not put his hand up straight away.

After spending five years as deputy principal, a position he immensely enjoyed, he was still uncertain about moving into the principal's office.

"I wasn't really sure it was the job I wanted," said Mr Rowsell.

"I didn't apply the first time round.

"But I loved the school and I loved the community and I thought if I was going to be a principal, I wanted to be one here."

Board of Trustees chairman Bret Williams said Mr Rowsell proved an incredibly student- focused principal who led by example.

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"He's one of those guys that every single decision he makes is for the love of the students and wanting to see them succeed," he said.

"He has been an inspirational leader for so many people - students, staff and parents."

Mr Rowsell has seen some major changes at the school over the years, the most significant being the introduction of NCEA in 2002.

"I like to make sure things are in place before I start anything, so leading teachers and kids through those sudden changes was an interesting journey," he said.

"I made a decision that we would just make it work the best we could for the students.

"It was a huge job."

The changes added to teacher workloads and Mr Rowsell said his biggest challenge was to create time for teachers to "get on and just enjoy teaching".

As a former English and drama teacher, he is a strong believer in extending students' learning outside the classroom.

He has coached the college first XI cricket team every year, directed shows, built sets, controlled lighting and spent countless weekends pacing sidelines.

"I have always thought that stuff is just part of being a teacher," he said.

"It's relating to kids on a different level.

"When I'm coaching the cricket team, I'm no longer the principal."

Seeing students such as Casey Williams, Brendon Leonard and Natalie Curtis go on to excel at sport has been one of the highlights of Mr Rowsell's career.

"To think they sat in the assembly hall and now they're captain of the New Zealand netball team or playing professional rugby is always kind of incredible," he said.

Another stand-out was seeing a Matamata College team win the World Future Problem Solving Final in the United States in 2010.

"For four kids from a little town and a small school to win an international competition is pretty special."

Former students would often keep in touch and Mr Rowsell said he looked forward to updates.

"There's not always instant rewards in teaching - it's when you see a former student, 10 or 20 years later and they are making their way in the world and you think you may have had some small part to play in that."

While he was not sure what his next career move would be, he hoped to stay in Matamata.

His parting words for his students were to encourage them to grasp every opportunity they were given.

Deputy principal Alan Munro will take over as principal next year and Mr Rowsell has every confidence in his abilities.

"He's had a long apprenticeship, he knows the school and he knows the community," he said.

"He can hit the ground running and that's going to be good for the school."

After 17 years, Mr Rowsell said it was the staff and students he would miss the most.

"Not everybody has the opportunity to be a principal so I feel privileged to have had that chance."

Matamata Chronicle