Beloved deputy principal retires

Janice Wright, left, with Skyla Law Chan, the artist of Janice’s portrait.

Howick College’s much-loved deputy principal has retired after 35 years in a heart-warming farewell by staff and students.

Janice Wright has been at Howick College since 1986. She began as a teacher in the Social Sciences Department specialising in social studies, geography and tourism – and eventually became the Head of Learning Area.

“I’ve wanted to teach since I was a little girl,” Wright says.

Described as an innovative teacher, Wright introduced the subject of tourism to Howick College, nurturing it through its development as a subject including the significant growth in the IT nature of the tourism industry.

Pre-internet, Wright wrote her own resources.

She is also renowned for her lasagne and chocolate pudding at camps.

“I loved working with the students,” Wright says, “and seeing their growth in confidence.”

Wright’s switch from teaching to the role of deputy principal involved more strategic and difficult decisions, she says. “It was a change.”

The two biggest highlights of her career at Howick College was teaching two National Scholars in geography and heading a conference for more than 100 specialist classroom teachers (SCTs).

During her time as a SCT, she embedded the Very Good Teaching programme within the school that helped establish the pedagogy of learning relationships that remain a foundation to this day.

“Throughout my years at Howick College was the growth of our ethnic communities,” Wright says.

When she arrived at the school, she could count Maori students on one hand. Now she says the school is a representation of ethnic diversity in Auckland.

Her dedication to both roles – teaching and deputy principal – can be seen in the response to her retirement. On July 9, Wright retired. Her office, when glimpsed, was filled with knick knacks given to her by fellow staff members. There were hugs and presents.

And at the official farewell at the sports centre, it was packed with staff, students, Wright’s husband and daughter, and principal Iva Ropati.

A variety of cultural groups – Tongan, Cook Islands, Indian and Samoan – performed dances that she would occasionally and playfully partake in to the applause and cheers of students.

“I retired so I could leave with a great high,” Wright says.

As the professed matriarch of Howick College, Wright is leaving behind a laudable legacy as a teacher and a school leader.

“I’m going to miss it,” Wright says.

In her retirement, she plans to spend time with her family and travel extensively.