Number 8 Network shares excerpts from retiring Whitikahu principal Trish Wilson’s farewell last week.
Acting principal Brent Harper said that Trish Wilson was more than a principal – she was a caretaker, counsellor, camp leader, teacher, friend and mother figure.
“It was difficult to summarise almost 20 years as principal of the school. When it was just a two classroom, two teacher, three pot-belly stove country school. Where the students would wander freely into the staffroom, sit by the principal and ask ‘what are you having for lunch?’ – in that regard, over 20 years, nothing has changed.
But she can be proud of the countless children who had entered the gates hollow, and then left through these same gates filled with our Special Whitikahu Way.”
Not many people could fully understand what a typical day might involve.
“Getting here as the sun rises, putting on her pool-cleaning clothes and maintaining our pool throughout many summers. Then, changing into more professional clothes for the school day that lay ahead.”
“This could involve the water suddenly turning off, a salesperson turning up unannounced selling resources, a ministry document being due, listening to students read, and a parent who needed counselling – all before morning tea.”
It was this adaptably and understanding that allowed the staff to do the things that the students and community valued so much.
“I still recall Trish phoning me to tell me I had won a position here at Whitikahu – and that phone call profoundly changed my life, like so many who have entered here.”
He said serving one’s community was a noble act. “Mrs Wilson has served this community with distinction.”
The proof of her commitment and leadership was in at least seven successful ERO reviews, each commenting on the effectiveness of the principal.
“Trish found the perfect balance between school and home with her family. We promote those same family values at Whitikahu School and that starts with our leadership and our staff – our Whitikahu family always united by the same cause – our love of Whitikahu School.”
BoT chairman Pete Courtney addressed Trish Wilson directly, adding it was a challenge to say how much she was appreciated in just a few words.
“From my time on the board of trustees, several things stand out. One is the number of times you said you were going to leave – I remember each time because of the state of panic it left me in.
As a board, they had it easy.
“Your ability to identify an issue early and nudge it back into line meant that board life was a cruise.
“…Your staff were always provided with outside professional development, but as a BoT we completely overlooked the wonderful professional development you provided. They have had the opportunity to learn from the best. As a principal, you formed a team, you developed that team and you lead the team to deliver the best results for our children.
“Trish, for what you have done for our children – school and community – thank you. Please always remember that no one could have done a better job. I wish for you a long, joyful busy retirement.
You have earned it and deserve nothing less.”