Principal's Blog: Term 1 Week 8
Thursday, 16 March 2023
Kia ora whānau

The week that was saw 50,000 teachers across the motu standing in solidarity in their quest for better conditions. Although wages not rising at the rate of inflation will have been a big stumbling block in the respective union negotiations that have broken down, the overriding messaging from the sector has been more to do with the difficulties schools are facing on a day-to-day basis with increasingly diverse student needs creating immense challenges. Managing crammed classrooms and complex social and emotional needs of students and their families is reported as being firmly in the way of teachers’ abilities to do their jobs.

The commentary that sits with the discontent of teachers in the state and state-integrated sector presently, is in sharp contrast with that of our workforce, and therefore, our learners. At our recent Open Mornings, visiting families shared their immediate anecdotal observations over a cup of tea. Whilst we are accustomed to visitors commenting upon our smaller class sizes and the happy, healthy thrum of highly engaged students, I was struck by numerous comments to the effect that our teachers looked happy also. Happy in their work, and happy to be working at Marsden. The fact that the positive demeanour of our staff was so very evident speaks volumes and fills me with pride. Next week caregivers will be emailed details of how to book appointments with our teachers for our upcoming Learning Progress Interviews on the afternoon and evening of Thursday 30 March and Tuesday 4 April. 

Our intent in supporting Hukarere Girls’ College in their post-disaster recovery has been taking shape, with students engaged with our Chaplain in learning about and understanding the impacts of the floodwaters that have destroyed their Eskdale campus. Our students have sent a virtual private letter ‘Dear Hukarere’ by way of video link to the students, who continue to learn from home while the fate of their boarding school is decided. This deeply thoughtful expression of tuakana-teina enabled Marsden students to empathise and extend support, alongside messages of encouragement. In the week ahead, there are a number of student-led initiatives taking place to further awhi the students of Hukarere, which I encourage everyone to get involved with.

One can only imagine the resilience required to get through when faced with extreme weather that has threatened both lives and livelihoods in recent times. In another example of immense resilience, Marsden is humbled to be hosting orator Jake Bailey on 21 March. A passionate educator on the power of resilience, Jake caused a global sensation in 2015, when his speech as Head Boy at Christchurch Boys’ High School prize-giving went viral. A week before he was due to deliver his speech, Jake was diagnosed with Burkitt non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and given two weeks to live if left untreated. Jake persevered to make his speech from his wheelchair, the video of which touched the hearts of millions across the world. Jake, now in remission, firmly believes that resilience is a teachable skill, and will share his story on Tuesday at 6pm in the Auditorium. A public event, the inspirational story of resilience and overcoming adversity, is free to Marsden students, and at a reduced price for Marsden whānau. Please find registration details here.

As I write, I can’t help but reflect on the resilient grit and grace of Marsden students who have braved a wintery blast, pasted on their positive attitudes, and headed off to swimming sports and regional athletics. The wind and rain will not have dampened their enthusiasm and spirits will be high. Well done to our spirited Senior A Volleyball team who won Division 2 at the CSW Regionals last weekend, our Senior Futsal team who were this week crowned Regional Champions. and our Waterpolo team who are heading to nationals in Auckland. We wish all teams all the very best for their respective national campaigns, along with our rowers whose outstanding North Island Secondary Schools’ regatta has seen an impressive 12 rowers qualify for Maadi cup. Well done to everyone who has given their level best and had lots of fun with their friends in this summer sports season, and thank you to our tireless volunteers for making sport at Marsden happen. 

Ngā mihi nui
Paula Wells