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Principal dials up great ideas at Hampton Hill School

Oct 5th, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Article, Front Page Layout, News

SMILEY FACES: From left, Mark Phipps, Louise Bray-Burns, Simone Ellison-Henderson (kneeling), Olivia Bixley, Kimberley Garside and Zane Oldridge.

ALLOWING children to bring cellphones has been a success at Hampton Hill School, says the new principal who introduced the idea.

The cellphone idea was one of the early changes made by Louise Bray-Burns when she arrived at the Tawa school.

It was expected some parents wouldn’t be enthusiastic about the idea, but it has not been an issue, says Louise.

“I haven’t had any complaints by parents. No cellphones have gone missing and only one child has had their phone taken off them in class.”

Louise is obviously comfortable with new technology such as cellphones.

She was responsible for some of the early computerisation initiatives while deputy principal at her previous school.

During her 20 years at Tawa Intermediate she progressed from relieving teacher to acting principal.

Louise, who has a Masters in Education, has travelled to Japan and the United States to learn and spent time working with the Ministry of Education.

One of her Tawa initiatives has been setting up B.O.Y.S – which stands for Being Outstanding Young Students – for boys in the school to get together and build on their leadership skills.

This group has had many positive responses from parents saying “what a great thing it is and how well it’s done for their child”.

Other initiatives which have contributed to leadership skills have centred on more interaction between older and younger children.

There is now a combined assembly which is run by a different class in the school each week.

The kids get a chance to show what they have been doing in their learning each week.

“The big kids want to see what the little kids are doing and the little kids want to see what the big kids are doing. It’s just lovely.”

The two tier school has also been split geographically by age group – first and second year in the “bottom block” and “top block” consisting of years two to six.

In the past, these two levels of the school have only joined on a Friday for lunches, but since Louise came this happens every day at lunch.

Living in the area for many years means she is also familiar with many of the families.

In another initiative to bring Hampton Hill together for families and kids to be a part of the culture, Louise has invited parents for occasions with the school.

A hui was held last year for families, with a turnout of 100 people who came to eat and discuss their children’s progress.

After dinner Louise used private sports provider Kelly Sports for the children to play games with while the parents talked about their kids futures.

“The families gave the school some really good ’stairs’ to what they wanted for their children in terms of goals for their children and what they wanted the school to do for their children.”

A pot luck dinner is scheduled for November to see how far they have come and to look into next year.

“Everybody brings a plate or two and we all share the meal together. I really hope that it builds.”

In an interview with Newswire last year soon after starting the role, Louise talked about being at home at part of the culture..

“I really wanted it because I know the area and I love it and so it all just fell into place.

A staff member was asked if over this year the principal had achieved her goal of being part of the culture.

“She’s not just a part of the culture she’s part of the furniture now,” says office manager Sara McLay.

“Staff morale is at a high. She’s awesome I haven’t laughed as much as I have in this last year.”


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