It’s not every day Howick College has the privilege of hosting the principal of Niue High School, but last week, Charles Ioane landed in New Zealand for exactly that reason.
Accompanied by careers advisor and PE teacher Moira Jackson, Mr Ioane was hosted by the school as part of an educational support and mentoring programme, where he shadowed Howick College principal Iva Ropati for a week.
It was an action-packed week, he said, as he witnessed how Mr Ropati leads the school community and gained a better understanding of the New Zealand education system.
“It’s information overload, but it’s been very good.
“When we were first asked to come, I couldn’t see it. [Back home] we have 200 students, 30 staff… this school has so much more. I couldn’t see the benefit that could come out of it – but I’m very happy we did come. It’s different, but the teaching and learning is the same, and we’re prioritising what we can take out of it.”
In Niue, Mr Ioane’s family are well-known for being teachers.
With an extended legacy of education in the family line, he said it was natural to step into the role.
Putting his hand up for principal was a different challenge, meaning he would need to step back from teaching in the classroom, but he’s taken it in his stride with a goal to do the very best he can by his students and staff.
“[When I first became principal], I wanted to build on what was already there and make improvements where we could; not tear down what’s been done before. It’s also our aim to instil in [students] a sense of wanting to come back and invest in the island long-term.
“It’s been amazing seeing the opportunities available for students here. It’s inspiring.
“[In Niue] we do the best we can with the resources we have, and it’s always about the students – giving them opportunities to be what they want to be. That big picture is the most rewarding for me.”
Mrs Jackson, who also has a strong family history in teaching, said the high level of respect students have for teachers is a “very special” factor of her work back home.
She echoed Mr Ioane’s gratitude for the week spent with Howick College staff – particularly the careers advisor, who she credited for managing a “very dynamic” role and doing her part to set students up for successful futures.
With hopes to implement a careers programme at Niue High School, Mrs Jackson said there are many aspect of the college’s careers department she can glean inspiration from.
Howick College principal Mr Ropati considered it a pleasure hosting the two educators, and said he learned a lot from their expertise.
“Our context may be different but in the end we are both searching [for] leadership strategies that work best to accelerate student learning.
“He shared some highly successful strategies for dealing with special needs students. In his school he had a student with Downs Syndrome and explained how he integrated the student into the wider school without any labelling or deficit stereotyping. The student was completely embraced and accepted just as any other student would be in their school.
“I found the conversations very beneficial and look forward to future interactions between our two schools in the future.”