Principal of Owairoa Primary, Alan McIntyre one of the longest serving principals in Auckland talks to EastLife about his learning journey, and the secret code to survival and success – of the largest primary school in east Auckland.
Q. On an average most principals survive the hot seat for 5-10 years, max. how have you coped with the pressure of being a principal for 33 years?
I started my teacher training in 1970 and have been in various Principal roles since 1988, with my latest Principalship placement at Owairoa since 1990. I love my job at one to the top 20 biggest schools in the country, and love the daily positives and challenges that working in a large school brings.
Q. Name Three words to describe your journey as a longstanding principal of Owairoa Primary School?
Compassionate, empathetic, innovative.
Q. An achievement your school is most proud of?
Growing our school into a leading educational institution with a positive global reputation, watching it develop from a roll of 200 to over 1000 students and becoming a trusted name in primary education.
Q. An instant change you’d make if you were Minister for Education?
Taking education out of a political grasp, so that the long-term educational vision would not be influenced by current political views.
Q. How did you cope with all the disruptions in the last couple of years including Covid, teachers’ strike and more?
We have adapted to instigate support and wellbeing programmes for our students, staff, and families, becoming open minded and flexible in these trying times, while maintaining a calm, stable and rational approach/response. A trusted pair of hands.
Q. How do you promote diversity and inclusion within the school community?
Culturally responsiveness is paramount as we celebrate 47 different cultures within our student body. This brings such a cultural richness to our school which we enjoy promoting as part of our strongly embedded ‘Owairoa Family’ ethos.
Q. Has the inflow of international and exchange students dwindled down after Covid? Any signs of recovery?
We have worked hard to maintain our strong international relationships with our sister school and international agencies adapting to a more digital approach. Now that borders are reopening and travel resumes, we have a multitude of International Students wishing to return to our school.
Q. What is the winning formula to managing the biggest primary school in east Auckland?
Compassion x family ethos squared = positive progress and a safe learning environment.
Q. If you were a character in a book or movie, who would you be?
John Keating from the book Dead Poets Society as he was progressive and tried to encourage his students to break free from the norm and think outside the square.
Q. Any hidden talents your students would be surprised to find out about you?
I have been a passionate crafter since a young age, enjoying woodworking, stained glass making, photography and gardening.
Q. Funniest moment you experienced at school?
Setting up numerous April Fool’s pranks over the years, including staging an unannounced Education Review Officer Visit and on another occasion evacuating the school carpark for a roadside gas-leak etc.
Q. Dream vacation?
A road trip to Tolaga Bay, where I used to spend a lot of family time camping as a child.
Q. Most rewarding experience?
Privileged to experience a lifetime of involvement and achievement in education, watching our school change over time and transitioning as the education landscape has evolved.
Q. Any words of wisdom?
I have a quote attached to my computer, which I read daily “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone” – G. Stein. I believe in the power of gratitude and encourage those around me to celebrate the good around us, taking the time to be appreciative and making an effort
to thank people.