Friday, December 11 is the last day Linda Harvie, principal of Farm Cove Intermediate, will walk to school like she has done for the last 10 years before she hands over the reins to deputy principal Dr Tamara Jones.
Retirement is never an easy decision, and Harvie says she gave herself seven years as principal of the school. Now that she has almost touched 10 years, she thinks it’s time for a change of guard.
A principal for 17 years (seven at Howick Primary and 10 years at Farm Cove Intermediate), Harvie first walked into Farm Cove Intermediate as a reliever art teacher.
“I think I’ve done every role in the school including being a science teacher and later deputy principal before taking over the baton from past principal Madeleine East.”
Harvie gets nostalgic as she shows us a cutting from the Times when she first took over as principal. She says she has been very lucky to have worked with “amazing” colleagues, teachers, children, staff and the community.
She acknowledges that she’s been in a privileged position–working with people and dealing with so many interesting aspects of running a school including the curriculum, decision-making, taking initiative, property, finance, the well-being of students as well as teachers, dealing with the board of trustees, the wider community, Ministry of Education and principals in east Auckland schools.
“It’s the life of a problem-solver,” she says. “And just when you think you have the answers, something new always happens that you’ve never experienced before, like Covid,” she laughs
“I am going to miss the school community,” says Harvie, who takes pride in developing leadership and empowering teachers to develop their strengths.
As for her future plans, she says, she would like to use her leadership skills “not necessarily in the education field but I’d like to support people in leadership roles”.
Deputy principal Dr Jones, who will be the fourth principal in the 40 years of Farm Cove Intermediate, says she is fortunate to have had Harvie as her coach and mentor and is well-prepared for challenges ahead.
“I’m lucky to have this transition period where I get to learn from Linda who is a great leader.
“Right now I am learning how to breathe from the diaphragm,” she laughs. “I’m learning how to stay calm and process things. I am a high-energy person and it’s important for the principal to exude a sense of calm so that the people around her feel the same. It’s a complex job and I am learning all the time. I enjoy being challenged and thinking in different directions. My heart is in education and I like exploring different facets of it.”
With a PhD in Education, Dr Jones has taught in different areas of primary and tertiary education. She says she looks forward to being in a role where she can support others to thrive.
She will officially take over as principal on February 3, when school reopens in 2021.