After five years as principal of Duntroon School, Rodney McLellan started in his new role as principal of Fenwick School at the start of this term. He replaced Lloyd Bokser, who had been in the role for 17 years. Oamaru Mailreporter Daniel Birchfieldcatches up with Mr McLellan.
Q: Hi Rodney. Where are you from originally?
Dunedin is my home town.
Q: Why did you want to become a teacher?
I went straight from high school to teachers’ college. In those days, we had to actually apply and have an interview and then you were selected. That was at the Dunedin teachers’ college, as it was called in those days. When you’re working with kids, you see progress and you see achievement. The kids at primary school are so keen to come and try new things so you can give them a whole lot of new experiences and see their progression at the end, which is always great.
Q: Where was your first teaching job?
It was in 1994 and it was at Gorge Rd School, which is in Southland.
Q: What would you say was a highlight of your time at Duntroon School?
I was there for close to five years. Duntroon is an awesome school with a great community, really. It’s one of those wee places in New Zealand where everyone is focused on the school and they get in and support the kids. It was great working in an environment like that.
Q: How have you settled into your role at Fenwick School?
I’m thoroughly enjoying being back. I was here for five years beforehand so it’s nice to come back to the school. Some of the things are the same and there are some things I’m getting my head around. It’s nice to be here for term four before I have a look at setting out a direction for the school in 2018.
Q: Have you set any goals you want to achieve?
The first personal goal for me here and the challenge I’ve set myself is to learn all of the kids’ names. There are 300 kids here at the moment so that’s quite a few names to go through. I’ll come back next year and see where things are at. It will be a chance for me to work with the staff and the community and set some future direction. I like the community and want to find out more about what’s happening.
Q: Would you say there’s a strong sense of community at the school?
I think it’s great and the community has been very welcoming. Lots of people have called in just to say hello our welcome back. The gala we had recently was an excellent example of the school community and the wider Oamaru community coming together. There was something there for everyone and it was a great fundraiser.
Q: What is the biggest difference at the school from when you left?
It’s been a growing roll, really, since I left and that obviously creates some challenges in terms of space at the school. That’s one of the big challenges – housing the children that we have got. That’s something we are working on with the Ministry of Education to create more teaching space.
Q: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in education during your time as a teacher?
I guess the two big changes would be when I first started, we were still doing three-term years. The other big thing is technology is playing a big part in education today. It is quite interactive and the good thing about that is the information we are getting to our pupils is current. Pupils today have all of this up-to-date information at their fingertips.
Q: What do you like to get up to in your spare time?
When I have got spare time, my family and I like to go up to the lakes in the caravan and do some boating and a bit of bike riding as well.