Lots to build on in Hampden

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With plenty of experience behind him, Weston School teacher Matthew Hannagan feels he is the right man to lead Hampden School into the future, probably from term four. Reporter Daniel Birchfield speaks to the rural North Otago school’s new principal to find out more.

Q What appeals to you about teaching?

No two days are the same. It’s loads of fun and really rewarding and you can make a positive difference to people’s lives.

Q How did you get into it in the first place?

I got into teaching after a short stint at university, following advice from friends and family that it’s what I should be doing. Becoming a teacher was a natural path for me; I’ve always been surrounded by family involved in education with several cousins, aunts, uncles and even my mother and sister teaching in one capacity or another.

Q Why did you want to take on the role of principal at Hampden School?

I’m ready for a fresh challenge. It has an interesting balance of classroom teaching and school management.

Q How long have you been at Weston School and where have you taught previously?

I have taught at Weston School for three and a-half years and before that I spent time teaching in Ashburton, United Arab Emirates, Dunedin and Nelson.

Q What have been some of the highlights of your time at Weston School?

Being part of such a localised curriculum, the formation of a kapa haka group, building leadership opportunities for the senior year 8 pupils and, of course, camps, class trips, dress-up days and events such as cross-country. Weston has incredible kids and a very supportive community. I am grateful for the opportunities I was provided there.

Q What appealed to you about Hampden School?

It is an exciting, growing community and I like the feel and culture of this small rural school. It is part of a rural schools’ network with close ties to other smaller schools in the district, such as Maheno and Totara.

Q What do you see the differences being between the other schools you’ve taught at and Hampden School?

They have a practical approach to learning where they like to make it fun and hands-on. I also like the strong connections it has with the Moeraki Marae and Hampden being the tangata whenua school for the marae. Finally, I feel Matt Bokser has laid a great foundation and done many good things at Hampden that I can grow on.

Q Do you plan on relocating to the area?

Not at this stage. I currently live in Weston and my eldest goes to school there. We like it out here and I think it might be a nice change to not live and work in the same community.

Q What short-term goals have you set yourself?

That’s an easy one. Really get to know the children and their whanau – see what makes the community tick. Lots of listening and observing to begin with.

Q How would you describe your teaching style?

I like learning to be fun and beneficial. Decent thinking is important in children’s learning. I like to think that I am a dynamic, creative and authentic in my teaching approach. I also am loud (often unfortunately!), energetic and enthusiastic. My style of being a principal will be to be an effective communicator, organisation, clear expectations and value the diverse needs and backgrounds of Hampden School.