New leader sorts priorities

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WELCOME ABOARD: Ashburton College principal Simon Coleman has been officially welcomed to the school.
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Student learning, community engagement and school beautification, on top of a multi-million dollar build, are top priorities for new Ashburton College principal Simon Coleman.

To be welcomed to the school today with a powhiri, Coleman officially began last week after settling in and meeting staff since early January.

‘‘Getting ready for the start of the school year, one of the big focuses is on the school environment,’’ he said.

It included the opening of the new Rangitata block.

‘‘(It’s a) really great start for our new year 9s, but actually for all (students) to have this amazing facility to be a part of.’’

The block will be used for science, mathematics, agriculture, Te Whare Manaaki learning support unit, art and drama. It was blessed and opened to the public for viewing yesterday.

There has also been planting and painting work done around the school, including refreshing the pastoral block, gymnasiums and historic Menorlue, which is being modernised and fitted out as a music block.

‘‘We are currently working with the ministry around funding to be able to put some more resourcing into the older blocks. At this stage we don’t know when that next second (building) stage is going to start. It’s to get them up to a level that the students will respect and find inviting.’’

Coleman, married to Anna, spent nine years as principal at Geraldine High School, which has a roll of about 630 students; Ashburton College has more than 1360 students, a faculty of 90 teachers, and more than 200 staff in total. The couple still live in Geraldine.

Coleman has taught at five high schools including Mount Hutt College and Mountainview High School, and St Peter’s College, a coeducational year 7-13 school in Gore with an attached boarding house.

He is aware of parent/community feedback on issues at Ashburton College and was working through them.

Some of which including buildings and environment, and vaping.

NEW WORKS: The new Rangitata block will be used for science, mathematics, agriculture, Te Whare Manaaki learning support unit, art and drama.

Coleman planned to be visible this term, meet students around the school, spend time with the staff, and over time in the community meet various groups who have, or want to support or have dealings with the college.

He was also dealing with a couple of ‘‘hard to staff’’ vacancies in science and math from last year which were being worked through.

‘‘I’m really impressed with the staff here. I’ve met a lot of staff and they’re very passionate about the school. Many of them are ex-pupils of the school so they’ve got a real connection.

‘‘I met the year 13 leaders group … great to talk to the young people and hear what they think.’’

Head students this year are Tamsin Cartney and Ripena Umaga Vaeila, with deputy head students EJ Elliott and Jordy McGillen.

Coleman said the diversity of the Ashburton community was reflected at the school and he was excited by opportunities.

‘‘Our young people are going to leave and go into the world … it’s important that we provide the opportunity for them being understanding of others and respectful.’’

‘‘Part of our job is to get (students) ready for work, or further study. It’s our job to produce well-rounded students who are confident, capable, can speak well, who are empathic and understanding.’’