14 Wednesday May 23 2018 Latest Christchurch news at www.star.kiwi Our People SELWYN TIMES Ronan Bass Irish eyes are smiling on Ellesmere About a month into the job, Ellesmere College’s new principal Ronan Bass is enjoying the new role. Emily O’Connell talked with him about his career, moving from Ireland and his most memorable teaching moment How have your first few weeks been at Ellesmere College? It’s been really good. Everybody’s been very welcoming. So we started with a beautiful powhiri . . . I was very fortunate to have some staff members from Hillcrest High School in Hamilton and students come down to support me along with some of my friends who work in the local community. So that was a really beautiful way of being, I suppose, introduced to the Leeston and the Ellesmere College community. How did you get into teaching? I went straight from high school to do a degree. It was a combined degree in education and science. Growing up in a very rural community in the East Coast of Ireland, I had always thought about becoming a vet. And then I worked during my teens for about three years in a veterinary clinic and that put me right off. I don’t know where it kind of came from, there’s kind of been a series of sort of teachers in my family and it was something I thought about. I attended the University of Limerick, which is on the West Coast of Ireland, and I did a bachelor of science and education, specialising in agricultural science and biology . . . I spent my first year out of university working in a school smaller than Ellesmere College in probably a town around about the same size, and then I was quite fortunate to get a position at an international boarding school in Switzerland for a year. After that I decided I wanted to see the world a wee bit and I moved to New Zealand. Initially, for about six months on a working holiday visa but stayed for about five years. And then went back to Europe for a couple years and I’ve been back here ever since. What put you off becoming a vet? I’m not sure actually. Probably, it’s a full-on job – not that teaching of any school isn’t. Maybe it was the goriness of it? I’m not sure. I’m pretty good with kind of guts and blood . . . I suppose maybe the idea that I wanted to give back more to community and the idea of social justice and working with people and being able to, I suppose, influence and bring about change. How long have you been teaching? This is my 21st year. What was the first school you taught in? Colaiste Bhride – and that back then was quite a small school. It was under 300 students and it was about 20km from where I grew up . . . now that school has actually about 800- 900 students. What made you apply for the job at Ellesmere College? Long-term my plan had always been to move to the South Island. Last year I was fortunate enough to be acting principal at Hillcrest High School, which is a school of 1800 students, for a term while the principal was away on a sabbatical and I really enjoyed that . . . when this position came up, it was very much a kind of ‘it ticked all my boxes.’ I’ve always wanted to work and lead a school which is set in kind of a rural community where you can see, kind of, I suppose, your sphere of influence but also be close enough to a large urban area like Christchurch so that you do have a bit more of the support mechanisms close by. Two of my best friends work at two of the local schools . . . Ellesmere College has a really good reputation. It’s not that this school was broken and needs to be fixed or anything like that. That it would be going in here to work with a really professional group of teachers and support staff and working collaboratively with them, moving forward for the future. One of the big draws for me was the, I suppose, the rebuild that’s going to happen over the next two years and that’s really, really exciting. Other than the term of being principal at Hillcrest High School, had you been principal before? Nope. So I’m a first time principal. Did that term make you want to become principal? Yes, well it had always been my career aspiration. It was an interesting thing because SETTLING IN: Ellesmere College’s new principal Ronan Bass (centre, front) gets to know some students during lunch. PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER when I was acting principal for term two last year, I was not apprehensive about it but I was like ‘I’m just going to take every day as it comes.’ But I really, really enjoyed it I have to say. Why have you always wanted to move to the South Island? You just have to look at, you know, how the South Island looks at the moment and it’s a pretty easy answer. I think Autumn in the South Island is an absolute spectacular time, you know, the change in colours, and the scenery, the people . . . I’m a rural boy at heart. When and why did you move to New Zealand? So it was in 1999. I had family living here, so on my dad’s side, my closest cousins in terms of age lived in New Zealand and we had seen them sporadically growing up and I decided well I kind of wanted a bit of change of scenery and I’d like to get to know some of my cousins a bit better. SELWYN’S TOURISM SUMMIT 2018 WEDNESDAY 6 JUNE, 2PM LINCOLN EVENT CENTRE Christchurch has just been announced as the host city for TRENZ 2020! A number of prominent guest speakers have been lined up to talk to local tourism operators. Find out how you can be trade ready by TRENZ 2020. Places are limited. Please register your interest for this FREE event by emailing email@example.com by 5pm Wednesday 30 May. www.sensationalselwyn.co.nz
SELWYN TIMES Latest Christchurch news at www.star.kiwi Wednesday May 23 2018 15 College What’s the difference between teaching here and overseas? I think we’ve got extremely hard working teachers. I think we’ve got very, very professional teachers . . . we’ve got an absolutely amazing, and I always say world-leading curriculum document. When you look at curriculum documents from other countries, you know, they are thousands of pages long and extremely prescriptive . . . NCEA has some issues with it but again, that has been designed to be a very, very flexible assessment system and it’s about teachers being able to use that and adapt it so it fits the localised context of the school and it’s adaptable enough to be able to be used so that it fits the learning needs of the students as well . . . so for example in Ireland, it all rode on, or used to, I think it may have changed, everything rode on your end of year exams at the end of year 13 . . . so a classic example was, you know, my year 13 biology exam, I had a splitting migraine, I left after 40min and there was no such thing as a derived grade or compassionate consideration, you had to suck it up and either take the grade you got or you resat it the following year. What grade did you end up getting in your biology exam? I got a B+. It was one of my stronger subjects. What do you hope to achieve or implement at Ellesmere College? For me, it’s not about what I want to implement, it’s more about taking staff, students and the community on a journey. As I have kind of mentioned, where we’re going to have new buildings and possibly have to rethink how we’re doing some of our teaching. It’s about taking everybody on a journey so they understand why we’re doing that and how to do it. Do you live locally to the college? Yes I do. I’m about a 7min drive, so it’s within the Leeston community, so just slightly on the outskirts. And that was part of moving down here was that I wanted to be part of the community and to be highly visible within the community and that was a conscious decision. What’s your most memorable teaching moment? A lot of them, really. I suppose for me, and most teachers would say this, but it’s about, you know, seeing kind of a light go on behind a kid’s eyes . . . and that’s what schools are all about, you know, working together and working collaboratively to ensure that students leave school and can be successful, irrespective of what they want to do. What’s your favourite thing to do outside of work? Probably get into the garden when the weather’s nice. I tend to just kind of like de-stress. Probably at home – doing some reading, watching a lot of movies and kind of taking it easy. Do you have any pets? We have a small zoo. So dogs, cats, chickens, and at one time, rabbits – so that was an interesting process transporting them to the South Island. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt? Is to listen – and that is a lesson I’ve had to learn over a long period of time. But it’s really important you can step back and listen to people. WINNERS: Jennian Homes Canterbury along with some of the Crusaders presented West Rolleston School with $500 to go towards sporting equipment. (From left) – Jennian Homes Canterbury operations manager Paul Jenkins, Crusader Jone Macali, Jennian Homes Canterbury client liasion Sue Prendergast, Crusader Joe Moody, Crusader Billy Harmon, West Rolleston Primary School principal Sylvia Fidow and two pupils from the school. Campaign to get pupils active THE DISTRICT council is running a new campaign to keep school children active in the cooler months. Active Autumn aims to get children to bike, wheel or walk to school to encourage activity, reduce congestion and develop road safety skills. Walk or wheel to or from school and get your passport stamped to be in to win one of three 2018 MGP Scooters, new helmets and back pack covers. Children must complete 10 journeys to enter. Active Autumn is also running a poster design competition. Create a poster on “walking or wheeling is good for me because . . .” and be in to win one of three Pedalmania visits for your school and a helmet for yourself. Mayor Sam Broughton will be helping judge the posters. Active Autumn runs until May 31. •For more information please visit http://www. selwyn.govt.nz/services/ road-safety/activetransport-for-schoolchildren. GREETING: Mr Bass was welcomed to the college with a powhiri at the beginning of the term. ACTIVE AUTUMN: The district council’s new campaign is encouraging children to walk or wheel to school.
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