Trial by fire–aptly describes Allan Vester’s appointment as principal of Edgewater College 23 years ago.
The entire Nelson Block was ablaze and he was called in to handle a major crisis even before he officially took over the hot seat at the principal’s office.
“Technically I wasn’t the principal then but had to make some quick decision,” Mr Vester recollects as his long run as principal of Edgewater College draws to an end.
“It was not the kind of start you anticipate,” he says.
Anyone who has seen Mr Vester, 65, literally jump hoops whilst doing the sound and lighting for any of the college productions knows that he is not the sort who sits behind a desk.
Known to roll up his sleeves and get jobs done, he readily helps a cluster of primary and intermediate schools in the area with the sound and lights at their events.
Reflecting on his tenure as principal, he says that maintaining the roll of a low-decile school located in a high socio-economic area has been the biggest challenge over the years.
Having chaired the New Zealand Secondary Principals’ Council for five years, Mr Vester is an expert in education policy and plans to continue to be involved in technical reference groups that review school funding.
And while the thought of “retiring and not going to another job for the first time in my life” is a bit daunting, he hopes to spend more time kite surfing, riding a bigger motorbike and getting involved in smaller educational projects—not only in Auckland but also in Wellington.
It is hard for him to let go, but he says it’s time for someone new to take over the leadership role.
“Associate principal of Howick College, Louise Addison has been appointed as the new principal and I am happy to say that our school is financially in great shape with a very loyal staff and teachers,” he said.
“We’ve had a very low turnover and I can’t speak too highly of the staff.”
He also talked about the students having “a sense of belonging” at the school.
“I am proud to say that all our kids in the Year 9-Year13 pathway enjoy their time at school. At Edgewater College everyone cares about each other.”
Mr Vester plans to retire after the Golden Jubilee celebrations on April 27 and 28 “since there is a lot of work to be done. And this makes the transition for the new principal easier. All the budgeting and staffing for the year has been done”.
On April 29 he will tidy up his desk and walk out of the school gates for good.
“I have been getting a lot of hugs from parents, teachers and students…everyone has been getting very emotional….but now the time has come to stop being principal,” he says.