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“It’s my kind of place.”
New Deputy Principal, Rowan Milburn, has gone into a new senior leadership position overseeing student wellbeing.
At a school-wide level, she plays a role in shaping the experience a student has at Hagley. Students having a positive experience at school is central to her approach and for Rowan, that’s based on building positive relationships. There’s no question that Rowan is a people person: she’s a great listener with a clear interest in others.
Rowan’s noted some small things that are indicative of a Hagley culture that embraces difference and individuality. She doesn’t miss the arguments about no nose piercings and clean shoes that can be part of a pastoral role in a uniform wearing school. She appreciates that uniform is just one component in how Hagley shows its students that we treat them as individuals and that they’re respected for who they are. What young people wear is important to them. If what they’re wearing becomes the focus, that can get in the way of building positive relationships and effective teaching and learning.
The strong links between student wellbeing and learning were at the forefront of research Rowan completed during her 2015 Secondary Senior Manager Award. She certainly valued the chance to see many other schools at work as part of this sabbatical. Rowan believes that seeing how other schools operate can only benefit teachers’ own work. She also rates highly her experiences on the national Aspiring Principals’ Programme.
Rowan’s teaching background is in PE and Health and she continues to teach a Health class at Hagley. She has an extensive background in pastoral roles, with deaning positions then as Assistant and Deputy Principal at Timaru’s Mountainview High School. Rowan has been Head of Junior School there, a role she valued as it gave her the scope to combine junior curriculum with student wellbeing.
It’s not all been about school and a teaching career though. Rowan’s been a professional cricket coach and player for two years in Holland. She holds the unusual honour of being a dual cricket international representing two countries, playing and coaching for Holland in the 2000 World Cricket Cup then being selected for the New Zealand team in 2006. That kind of recognition doesn’t come without hard work and commitment, which can be seen in how she commuted twice a week for six years between Timaru for full-time teaching, as well as training and playing for Canterbury Cricket. That ‘can do’ attitude also comes through in Rowan’s approach at Hagley, with high levels of energy in all that she does.
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