I’ll lead change principal

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Wakatipu High’s new chief believes he’s got what it takes to lead major change at the school. 

Steve Hall, the boss of the Halberg Trust in Auckland, has spent an illustrious career in educating young people and leading educational organisations after beginning teaching at Queenstown’s secondary school in the 1990s. 

“I have a lot of experience in change management, what it takes to successfully lead change, forming strong relationships with communities and new stakeholders and being able to develop a really good culture and working environment for staff so they feel supported,” he says. 

“I think those are the things that I bring, with an educational background and working with young people.” 

The 47-year-old’s life experience also includes a citation for bravery by the US Navy after helping save two people’s lives in a helicopter crash in Antarctica in 1991. 

It’s too soon to say whether he’ll be running the ruler over senior management, as indicated by limited statutory manager Peter Macdonald last year. Macdonald was brought in by the Ministry of Education to sort out issues at the school, resulting in the departure of former principal Lyn Cooper. 

“I’m aware of the issues and clearly that’s going to be a key matter for me to ultimately take responsibility for, but I need to get in, have a real good look, and see what’s going on,” Hall says. 

Apart from being school director of alternative education provider Outward Bound School from 2003-2009, Hall, hasn’t worked as a traditional school principal before. 

“I feel like the board has looked really hard at the role of a modern principal and the things they are responsible for, the things they have to achieve and skills they have to bring to successfully run a modern school – which has a lot of staff, students and multi-million dollar budgets,” he explains. 

“They’ve looked at the recent history of the school, which has been reasonably public, and looked for a skillset they think is best to take the school forward,” he says. 

“Teaching and learning at Wakatipu High is very good and you’ve got educational specialists in the classroom doing a good job every day. 

“I guess they’ve balanced all those factors when they chose to appoint someone like me.” 

Hall’s excited about getting his head round curriculum changes and the National Certificate of Educational Achievement, which wasn’t around when he was last at Wakatipu High. 

“I’ve already made some real efforts to get up to speed. There’s going to be great people at Wakatipu High to help me get my head round it and I think I’ll get my head round it really quick; I know I will.” 

Hall checked out his new office on Monday during a whistlestop visit to the school. He’ll take up his post in August, 
after honouring his notice period at the Halberg Trust.