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Acting principal Kieran Udy says it’s business as usual for Paeroa College this year. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

‘Caretaker’ principal embraces Paeroa

It’s business as usual for the community at Paeroa College this year, even as a new face steps into the top job. 

Acting principal Kieran Udy, freshly arrived from Kildare Catholic School in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, has been appointed to the top job. His role is primarily one of caretaker for absent principal Amy Hacker; keeping her strategic plan on trajectory while she undertakes a year-long secondment in Hamilton, providing leadership support to other Waikato principals. 

And if parents are worried this could spell drastic change for their child, they needn’t panic, Kieran said. 

“The school is in a good position so it doesn’t need dramatic changes,” he told the Profile. 

“As an acting principal really you’re maintaining the current direction, overseeing the day-to-day management of the school and just adding little bits where you can, but you’re not making strategic changes or anything to the school.

“It’s quite a pleasant role to be in, in many ways.” 

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There will, of course, be some changes to be made; government legislation around cell phone use in schools, for example, has necessitated the development of a new school policy this year. 

Overall though, Kieran said he is pleased with the current direction of the school and hopes to keep his tenure as smooth as possible for students and whānau. 

“My approach is very collaborative and not confrontational, it’s sort of ‘let’s work together as much as we can for the betterment of our students and staff’,” he said. 

“I’m open to any feedback or communication. We want to involve whānau and community as much as possible in decisions around their children.”

Kieran’s education philosophy – summed up as “supporting others to be the best versions of themselves” – ties in well with the college’s ethos, he said, and the whole school experience, both academic and extracurricular, is key to that goal. 

“It’s about providing kids options for when they leave, not necessarily pigeonholing them into a certain pathway,” he said. 

“School is not just academics and careers but also sport, cultural endeavours… Supporting students wherever they’ve got a passion or strength, as far as we can to help nurture that.” 

The skills that can be developed outside the classroom, Kieran said, are just as important as those found in textbooks. 

“There’s all the soft skills or transferable skills you can develop [in group activities] around dealing with conflict, dealing with loss, dealing with disappointment, working in a team, communication, problem solving,” he said. 

“Those are skills that you can take into any profession.”