Turning The Tide For A Rural School

August 14, 2012 10:46 pm

Michelle Cameron was an inspiring speaker at our Lower North Island Regional Conference, talking about how she and the community turned around the fortunes of James Cook School in Marton and presided over impressive roll growth from 71 students in 2008 to 170 today.

We invited her to share her story on the introduction of the R.I.C.H.E.R. values that have been part of the school’s core culture since 2009. These are based on respect, inclusion, co-operation, honesty, endeavour and resolution.

She says, “some may ask what James Cook School and Rural Women NZ have in common? On the surface very little. However your vision of ‘Growing Dynamic Communities’ connects to who we are. A vision to build dynamic communities of leaders who will stand for what is right and have the skill to lead us into the future. The endeavour to be the best that we can be and the passionate resolve to see things through.”

James Cook is a multi-cultural, semi-rural school located in the Rangitikei town of Marton. It is a school with strong foundations and a passionate parent community and staff who, in earlier times, were willing to fight for the right to stay open when pending closure was looming.

“In 2008 I had the privilege of accepting the principal’s position. Spending time with students, staff and community members to hear their aspirations was vital in the first few months. Our community wanted their children to stand tall, value themselves and others and lead by example. The school’s long standing mission statement of ‘Achieving excellence through aroha, endeavour and resolution’ needed to be lived. We needed to pull together for this to happen.”

In 2008 the school’s vision became ‘Building an interdependent community of engaged learners who go forth to influence the world round them’.

To ensure the vision was more than words on a piece of paper more courageous conversations were had.

“We had to agree on what core values we were going to stand for. Time debating why each core belief was important in the past, in the present and in the future was valuable.”

Our vision is now our reality. We are an interdependent community of engaged learners who go forth and influence the world around us in a R.I.C.H.E.R way. Our mission statement is alive and well. We have high community engagement. Our Board of Trustees and staff are committed to continued improvement and we have a growing roll.

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