Positivity at heart of new principal’s plans

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Five Forks School principal Belinda Brosnan says she is loving her new role at a rural school in the heart of the community.

Mrs Brosnan started at Five Forks School in term 3 last year, replacing retiring principal Cate Bole, who vacated the role a month short of teaching there for 25 years.

Now in her first full year at Five Forks, Mrs Brosnan is looking forward to putting her own stamp on the role.

“Having a really good culture of positivity – that’s what it’s all about for me – having a really positive culture where kids feel valued and want to be,” she said.

“Where we’re headed, overall, is listening to the community voice and focusing on having self-regulated learners in the school .. taking full responsibility in knowing where they’re heading and why, so they can contribute to the community well.”

Developing the leadership skills of senior pupils at the school would also be a focus.

The school was the hub of the community and she was grateful for the strong support the community had offered her.

“They just get involved in everything – everyone mucks in and gets things done, from tailing days to the Five Forks trail ride,” she said.

“That’s what makes it so special, that whole community involvement.”

Mrs Brosnan is a born and bred Oamaruvian.

She spent the best part of her teaching career at Fenwick Primary School in Oamaru, teaching year 5 and 6 pupils, before going on an OE with her family in 2015.

When she returned to Oamaru she worked as a resource teacher for learning and behaviour, which, ultimately, piqued her interest in becoming a principal.

“That gave me a great opportunity to look around a number of schools, from kindergarten through to high schools, in the North Otago region,” she said.

“It was a good eye-opener for getting out of one school and branching into others, seeing how governance works [and] how management works in other schools.”

She was deputy principal at Oamaru North School for about 18 months before the opportunity at Five Forks School presented itself.

At present, Five Forks School has a roll of 32 pupils, years 1 to 8, and two teachers.

Though was small, it definitely did not lack soul, she said.

Mrs Brosnan is a teaching principal.

“I love that, because you still get to be in the classroom, but you then get to have a bit of time to think about ‘where to next’, liaise with other schools and plan some really great learning opportunities.

“It’s really cool to have both sides.”