Several staff members are retiring at the end of the year. From the teaching staff we farewell Philippa Henderson, Mathematics and Gaye Campbell, Curriculum Leader of Learning Support. Howard Manins retires from teaching but will remain as Director of International students. Don McAlpine retires as ICT Technician and Ken Ofsosky retires as Groundsman.
Ms Henderson leaves us after a long career in teaching. She has always been passionate about our young people and Ōtaki College. Philippa’s interests in students lead her into pastoral work as Dean and she dedicated many long hours to get the best results for students in her care. She has been an avid Totara House supporter and has also looked after the buses for some years. Ms Henderson can be justly proud of her effort and achievements over the many years she has been engaged in the teaching profession.
Mr Manins has been a longstanding member of staff. He is most well-known for his outdoor education exploits. Howard has grown this area of the curriculum to the point that this subject alone attracts a large number of International students to attend Ōtaki College. The outdoor academy is considered right up there with other top programmes offered in a few schools throughout NZ – this only happens when a staff member pours hours of time, love and enthusiasm into their job and this is what Howard has done. Howard will not be completely lost to us as he will continue to undertake the role of Director of International.
Ms Campbell had a few years at OC in the early years of her career then, after moving around a little, she arrived back to teach at the College. Within a year of her return she took up the role as SENCO (Special Education Needs Co–Ordinator). She has worked tirelessly to make certain that all students with learning needs, from those that struggle in education through to gifted and talented, are encouraged and looked after at the College. This has meant that she has dedicated huge hours over and above her normal teaching load and other multi-faceted roles to fulfil this role. Gaye has also been an outstanding classroom teacher and staunch Rimu House supporter. She takes with her a great deal of institutional knowledge.
Don McAlpine has had a long history at the college as a teacher and in later years as our ICT technician. Don, in his early years in this role, was instrumental in running cables and setting up networks in the college. We are really going to miss his can do attitude and the depth of his knowledge around the place.
Rain, hail, sleet or snow has never deterred Ken Ofsosky from doing his job. Whenever we get visitors to the school they always comment on how nicely presented the college is and this is down to hard work and dedication Ken has for making certain that grounds are always in pristine condition. It will be hard to replace someone with such a high work ethic and pride in the college grounds.
Daniel McGrath, P.E. & Health, leaves us to travel overseas during 2015. We wish him well with his travels and look forward to his return in 2016.
Ricki Baker will be on study leave for the greater part of 2015 while completing a TeachNZ Māori Medium Bilingual Education Study Award and Dawn Hirschberg will be on leave for Terms One and Two while she is on a Royal Society of NZ Teaching Leadership Programme.
The Year in Brief
2014 has been a stellar year for the college in terms of student academic achievement and also a number of other things that have occurred. I have endeavoured to summarise some of these that have stood out for me;
The successful implementation of PB4L and Restorative Practices and National recognition as a high performing school in MoE and ERO publications.
Ratification of our Property Plan with major projects pending – Administration Block upgrade, North Block Centre of Learning/Library project and the Learning Support project which will be ready to move on in 2015 commencing with the procurement process.
The ongoing raising of academic achievement across the year levels particularly at level 1 and 2 NCEA, which has been achieved by teachers working hard to make curriculum meaningful for students by connecting this to community, events and trips beyond the classroom.
Science curriculum innovation — the Blended Fuels/Project Solar/Energise Ōtaki have been acknowledged in number of publications and on Seven Sharp.
Our Performing Arts Department who have been involved in the Shakespeare in Schools student led productions, the brilliant Blind Date Production and the Talent show.
The outstanding work undertaken by a very cohesive and collaborative Heads of School team backed up by the work in the student council and sub councils (Arts, Culture, Health and Environment, PB4L and Sports and students engaging in the KCDC Youth Council.
The applications for the Ōtaki Porirua Trust and the recent new Heads of School interviews for 2015 which have highlighted the talent we have in the college coming through the year levels.
Development of the Te Raenga Ipurangi Trust and the successful chromebook trial which will see us going into 2015 committed to chrome books across the whole junior school (years 7 to 10).
The development of the XŌtaki Alumni Whanau Trust to help support and build opportunities for students in the college.
The highly active Home and School group who have supported school activities and the Gala.
The college is now being used extensively by the community. Our gym is used up to 6 days per week with a number of groups, there is a weaving course operating out of the technology block, sign language classes in Te Whare Hui, raku pottery continues, Taekwondo in the hall, and the Horticultural block is coming alive with a number of community groups now utilising this whenua (Makura Tawhiti).
The noticeboard out front — our connection with you all.
And finally the celebration of student success at the Sports, Senior and junior prize givings.