Head and deputy retire this year

Balaclava School's Sally Direen (centre left) and Wendy Lamond surrounded by some of the smiling faces they will miss when they leave the school at the end of the year. Photo by Linda Robertson. 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 (63) said.

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.''

Sally Direen
Sally Direen
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 fitness track.

''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 life member.

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 office career.

''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.

Wendy Lamond
Wendy Lamond
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 decades.

''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 future.

rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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