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Thursday, 23 November 2017 01:10 pm

Porirua principal settles into job where she wants to excite students

May 21st, 2017 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Front Page Layout, Lead Story, News

Appointed principal Ragne Maxwell gives a speech at her welcoming powhiri. Image supplied

Porirua College principal Ragne Maxwell is looking to up the ante on how students are taught in the classroom.

Mrs Maxwell took over last year in term 4 after the retirement of Susan Jungerson, who had been at the college 20 years.

Mrs Maxwell says she is excited to get stuck into things and is looking forward to working with students and teachers to improve their learning.

She wants to change student’s perspective of learning and to find a better way to educate students to make them more interested in learning.

“You should want to learn.

“How can we make learning so exciting that kids want to do it like they want to do video games,” she says.

She says she has always been fascinated in how people around the world who are working in education are trying to work out a better way to educate students to make learning more interesting for them.

Mrs Maxwell was born in Wellington but grew up in the Marlborough Sounds and Dunedin.

She studied at the University of Otago where she developed the love for learning and teaching.

“My father was actually a teachers college lecturer and my mother was a university lecturer so I kind of grew up around people who were teachers,” she says.

Her love for books and literature were one of many reasons why she chose to be an English teacher.

“I just absolutely love great literature.

“I love beautiful language and I love things about how to live life.”

Mrs Maxwell has been teaching for over 20 years and completed a master’s degree last year on trying to find ways to make students want to learn.

“I did a research project called integrated curriculum which is teaching more than one subject at once.

Porirua College itself has been built to allow teachers to teach in different ways, according to Mrs Maxwell.

“The new buildings we’ve got are classrooms organised around essential space to allow teachers to work together and to potentially teach more than on subject at once in different ways.”

She plans to make people re-think their teaching strategies so it fits around the students’ interest to learn.

“Why can’t we add other things in to what students want to do so that they are interested.”

Mrs Maxwell has taught overseas in France and England over many years and says the New Zealand education system is one of the best she’s seen.

“I’ve seen other education systems and I know how good ours is.

“New Zealand has a real chance to work out what education should look like.”

Mrs Maxwell found her passion for teaching at the age of 16 after realising her love for literature and helping people.

“At 16 I realised I definitely wanted to go into teaching.

“I wanted to do something that makes a difference for other people that will help them in some way.”

Mrs Maxwell says she had no thought of becoming a principal but when the opportunity to make a change finally arrived she did not hesitate to jump on board.

“It was like if I really want to do this I need to lead a school to work out how to do this new way of learning and that made me interested in being a principal.”

Mrs Maxwell has spent half her career mostly overseas in England working in schools like Porirua College and says she was eager to get back to a school that motivated her teaching career in the first place.

“I was so excited to come to Porirua College this was my dream school.

“It’s great for me to get back into this sort of school which is why I really went into teaching to work in schools like Porirua College.”

According to a 2015 Stuff article Porirua College, a decile one school where 90% of their pupils are of Maori or Pasifika ethnicity, has slowly increased its roll-based NCEA pass rates at every level.

The former Kapiti College English teacher says the results achieved at Porirua College are more mixed due to a number of reasons.

“People here are often coming from backgrounds that make it difficult for them.

“There’s more to do in terms of supporting students to succeed here and I really like that.”

She says Porirua College wants to move forward in how they teach their students.

“This school has been built to teach differently and I’m interested in teaching differently.”

She says this new way of teaching ties really well with their school goals.

“Our mission statement as a college is to develop powerful learners who are willing and able to use that in the service of their communities.”

She would like to get students involved with their communities as a way of learning and earning credits.

“I think we need to make a space to do that inside our curriculum.

“Maybe we could go to a marae and learn from people on the history about the local history as part of doing a history assessment.

“We need to go out of the school and engage with our community or bring people from the community into the school and make amazing things happen for them.”

She hopes to have some of these ideas in action in 2018.

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