By DAVID HILL
Bruce Kearney admits he is “in two minds” about his pending move to Rangiora High School.
After 10 years at the helm of Kaiapoi High School, Mr Kearney will become Rangiora’s new principal in May.
He replaces Karen Stewart who will retire at the end of term one, after four and half years in the role.
“It will be sad to leave Kaiapoi, but after 10 years the time is right to move on,” he says.
“But I will still be in North Canterbury – it’s only 10 minutes further along the road.”
While he is a familiar face in the Waimakariri community, Mr Kearney says he will continue to commute each day from Christchurch.
“One of the things that I really like about it is I get to switch off and switch on when I hit the Waimakariri River.
“You give everything to your community when you are a principal in a community school, so it’s just nice to be able to switch off.”
During his time at Kaiapoi, Mr Kearney has seen the school roll grow from around 500 in 2011 to start this year with around 1100 pupils.
The biggest growth has been in Year 9s, from around 100 in 2011 to 270 this year.
“It just keeps going up, people shift out into North Canterbury and the growth is all over the place.
“When I first came here our goal was to be the school of choice in Kaiapoi and we had a little bit of work to do.
“We don’t provide single sex or Christian education, but we do provide a fantastic state, co-ed school.”
Rangiora High School has a larger roll of around 1700 pupils and Mr Kearney expects that to grow in the coming years.
“One of the key focuses I will have is making sure I connect with the community, and making sure people know who I am, and making sure Rangiora is the school of choice.
“Bigger schools provide more opportunities due to their size and good example of that is the great rugby programme at Rangiora, which I haven’t experienced as Kaiapoi hasn’t had a rugby programme.”
Mr Kearney is excited about Rangiora High School’s unique features, such as the school farm, and continuing to support the North Canterbury Youth Futures Careers Expo, which is planned in June.
Rangiora High School Board of Trustees chairperson Simon Green is excited about the new appointment.
“The board was impressed with Bruce’s energy, vision and strong focus on improving student achievement.
“He places students at the heart of all decision making, and is focused on building a positive school culture.”
He says Ms Stewart will be appropriately farewelled to acknowledge “the significant and positive impact she has had on our Kura”.