New principal keen to begin

Poolburn School's new principal, Sarah Hibberd, gets a blustery introduction to the Ida Valley...
Poolburn School's new principal, Sarah Hibberd, gets a blustery introduction to the Ida Valley during a visit to the school yesterday. The present principal, Craig Hickford (right), leaves for Brockville Primary School in Dunedin at the end of next week. Photo by Leith Huffadine.
One of the first things Poolburn School pupils asked their incoming principal was if she would be replacing the school dog, Culley, when he left with the outgoing principal next week.

Although a new dog was not on the cards, Sweep the cat will be taking up residence at the principal's home, which is sited next to the school, when Sarah Hibberd (31) takes over the role in July.

Mrs Hibberd, who is moving from Waimate, where she spent nine years teaching at Main School, said she was excited about moving to Poolburn. She spent yesterday getting to know the pupils.

''It's my first time as a principal. It's pretty huge and a big learning curve, but [I am] ready to take on that challenge.''

Everything fell into place after she participated in the national aspiring principals programme last year and visited Poolburn School when the job there was advertised.

Passionate about pupil responsibility and leading education in small schools, she was looking forward to continuing work outgoing principal Craig Hickford started, she said.

Mr Hickford, who leaves the school to take up the principal's role at Brockville Primary School, in Dunedin, on June 6, came to Poolburn School from Christchurch after his family decided to relocate after the 2011 earthquakes.

Leaving a school of 700 pupils and 25 teachers for the 35-pupil, 2.5-teacher school at Poolburn brought about some major changes in thinking.

The best part had been the pupils, the environment and the supportive community.

His move to a larger school was career driven, he said. He was ''definitely a bit emotional'' about the move.

''You put your heart and soul into it, living on site, giving it everything, and the relationships with pupils are pretty special when you know each one and their families.''

During his tenure at the school he and his family had received support from the community and fellow principals on the Central Otago Principals' Association.

Mr Hickford will be ''handed over'' to Brockville Primary School by pupils of Poolburn School during a powhiri in Dunedin next week.

Mrs Hibberd begins at Poolburn on July 21, and will live on site with her family. Her two youngest children will attend the school.



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