By Mick Jensen
Mid Canterbury’s longest servicing principal is stepping back and calling time on an education career spanning 42 years.
Sam Winterbourn has been principal at Ashburton Borough School since 1994 and before that was in the same role at Methven Primary School for three years.
Christchurch raised, Mr Winterbourn began his teaching career at Fendalton School, followed by stints at schools in Opawa and Woolston.
special education, achieving a post graduate qualification during that time.
During a stint at the Roxburgh Health Camp he wrote a submission that eventually helped health camps be recognised as places of special education.
Mr Winterbourn’s first principal job was at tiny Pigeon Bay School.
“In that sort of small community you can’t be anonymous, you have to be a part of it.
“In many ways that stint shaped me for the future and helped me to see the importance and relevance of small country schools that are supported by the community,” he said.
Mr Winterbourn said his career had always been project driven.
His first major project at Borough had been the re-calibration of Years 7 and 8 back into the school.
“It took four years of debate, but people wanted it, so we eventually made it happen in 1996.”
A second major project came during the time when a number of rural schools were being forced to close because of dwindling numbers and cost cutting.
“The board of trustees at Borough embraced the ‘side school’ concept and we spoke with Lismore, Westerfield and Lagmhor schools, which were all under threat of closure.
“Lagmhor School bought into the idea and we incorporated the school into Borough and were able to keep it open.”
Mr Winterbourn said he was very much looking forward to the 100 years celebration at Lagmhor School in May.
School building projects have kept him busy over the years at Borough, as has the long process needed to gain accreditation as an International Baccalaureate school, which the school achieved in 2016.
Although not yet ready for formal retirement, Sam Winterbourn says he is looking at other opportunities that will “allow him flexibility of time and offer new experiences and less stress”.
“It’s been a great journey and, for me, it’s always been about doing the best for the kids.
“I’ll miss them because I’ve always engaged with them and they are the reason I got into education.”
Future students needed to be flexible learners, encouraged to think and also given the opportunity to be creative rather than compliant, he said.
Sam Winterbourn finishes up at the end of July and has three months of travel in Europe and Asia planned soon after that.