Balaclava School has been ''home'' to Sally Direen
and Wendy Lamond for more than 20 years.
But they are to retire at the end of the year, ending 21
years at the school for principal Mrs Direen and 24 years for
deputy principal Mrs Lamond.
''We felt it was a good time to go. We leave the school in a
very good situation, which is very satisfying,'' Mrs Direen
She had led the school for 18 years, after starting as deputy
principal in 1993, and knew she would miss the smiling faces
she saw every morning.
''I'll miss it terribly, but it's the right time.''
The school roll had grown steadily from 112 to more than
250 pupils and the school had seen many changes, such as the
development of information technology.
Things had gone ''360'' in Mrs Direen's tenure, with new
classrooms and library built and upgraded playgrounds and
''We're just about to paint the staffroom and administration
block, which is what they did when I first arrived. We've
gone right around the school since then.''
While some might be critical of the education system, Mrs
Direen said she was very positive about it.
''We can always do better. Anything that improves the
outcomes for the children has got to be good.''
She had served on the Otago Principals' Association executive
for 16 years, was president in 2005 and in 2012 was named a
She was a strong advocate for special needs pupils and the
support they required.
Mrs Direen also served on the New Zealand Education
Institute's principal council for a term and for six years on
the New Zealand Principals' Federation executive.
Also, at the age of 52, she gained her master's degree in
education and over the years had completed secondments to the
Education Review Office and Dunedin College of Education.
Mrs Lamond, who declined to give her age, started at the
school as a beginning teacher aged 39 after giving up an
''It was very unusual to do that then. When I started it was
slightly odd but I've never regretted it.''
She remembers the days of large, chunky computers in
classrooms, a contrast to today's iPads, interactive
whiteboards and laptops on a wireless ultrafast broadband
system, she said.
Another change was the huge diversity in options
available for pupils, from sports to play and competitions to
take part in.
They both credited a strong school community and board of
trustees as making their roles easier and praised the strong
collegiality of the staff, many of whom had been there for
''The culture is embedded. People come here and stay. That
shows how good it is,'' Mrs Lamond said.
Both were looking forward to having more time with family,
especially their grandchildren, although Mrs Direen did not
rule out having some further involvement in education in the