New principal proud and humbled by appointment
TE AWAMUTU College principal Tony Membery is ready for the challenge of leadership of the school he has served for 24 years. 319071AD
By Dean Taylor
Newly appointed Te Awamutu College principal Tony Membery is fully aware the eyes of the community will be on him as he takes the town’s high school into the future.
Mr Membery says one of the key points he made in his interview for the position was that he was educated at a state co-ed school and is fully committed to the concept of community buy-in to ‘their school’. And while he is delighted with the positive response from the faculty, students, educational fraternity and community at news of his appointment, he says he has also been left in no doubt that this is the ‘College of the town’.
Mr Membery says it was clear the Board of Trustees were looking for someone who could step up to the mark for Te Awamutu College and build on the platform of success and see it into the future.
“It was a pretty gruelling interview,” he says. “The Board wanted someone who obviously knew their stuff and I feel fortunate that I have had opportunities at Te Awamutu College that I believe will have prepared me well for this job.”
He joined the staff of Te Awamutu College 24 years ago and has fulfilled a number of senior and management roles. Mr Membery was a Dean for 14 years, head of department for six years, faculty leader for six years and deputy principal for four years.
He says stepping into different roles to cover various staff changes, including acting principal after Barbara Cavanagh’s appointment, has given him tremendous experience in all aspects of the school.
Mr Membery sees leading the school as a combination of building on the best Ms Cavanagh and her team brought to Te Awamutu College, as well as introducing new initiatives and programmes to improve outcomes for students.
But there are some areas that need attention, and he says improving attendance and accounting for any absences are high on his list. Mr Membery says continuous attendance is vital to achieving good results. He says it is important certain traditions, plus new and successful innovations that are special to Te Awamutu College, are retained; such things as the school colours, concerts and productions, interhouse sport competitions, and fun activities, such as interhouse singing and the talent quest.
He says the Board and staff will also have to come to grips with the new New Zealand Curriculum to be introduced over three years, but it is an exciting document that fits in well with the direction the College has already adopted.
Te Awamutu College has embraced and is committed to Te Kotahitanga, which is proven to not only improve learning outcomes for Maori students, but all students. They are also committed to quality teaching of literacy and numeracy, vital foundations for a life of learning.
Mr Membery says other aspects of the new curriculum call for more practical and meaningful teaching, with authentic learning outcomes.
There is also a call for closer community links, and again Mr Membery believes the school is well on track. Mr Membery says such programmes as hospitality, environment projects, the AgAcademy and Gateway are already achieving those outcomes. He says the call for even more of these programmes, plus cross curricula learning and the integration of ICT into more curricula areas fits it with the school’s expectations.
Te Awamutu College has the mission statement ‘Learning Success For Every Student’ and is always looking for ways and means to make this a reality. The new document also allows schools to develop curriculum befitting their communities.
Accordingly for this district, where dairy farming relationships with South America are so important, Spanish will be offered as a language from 2008.
Mr Membery says the aim is to produce well rounded students, where abilities in sport, culture, service and leadership are respected and valued, but overall the highest possible academic outcome is valued highest. He says if students can answer the question ‘what are they learning?’, rather than just ‘what are you doing?’, then that programme will be having value. Mr Membery says that is a valuable question teachers should be using to evaluate their own performance in the classroom.
Te Awamutu College will also continue to support the Rosetown Learning Community - Te Awamutu schools dedicated to providing seamless and a high level of education for this district. Mr Membery says the College plays a vital role in this organisation, but every school has an input into making it work.
Mr Membery also wants to retain the open door policy of his predecessor - a policy he sees as vital in a community with so much ownership in its high school.