Wainuioru School principal Gene Bartlett, left, and Board of Trustees Chair Paul Oliver outside the Wainuioru Hall. PHOTO/CHELSEA BOYLE

CHELSEA BOYLE

chelsea.boyle@age.co.nz

In another life Gene Bartlett may have been a policeman, but on Monday he was welcomed as the new principal of Wainuioru School.

Mr Bartlett started teaching because he was a keen helper around the local rugby club.

“I loved working with children through sports and things like that.”

He weighed up attending police college, but rather than follow in the footsteps of his brother he decided to “branch out and do something different” and he has never looked back.

“I love it [teaching].

“Every day is amazing when you get to make significant change in people’s lives.”

Mr Bartlett was one of the main drivers behind bringing a bike track to Lakeview School, where he has been the deputy principal for the past three and a half years.

Prior to that he managed to get a principalship under his belt in the Cook Islands.

Mr Bartlett has a simple approach to teaching.

“I put in 100 per cent,” he said.

“If my impact hasn’t been made in three years, something is wrong.”

He loved his time at Lakeview School and appreciated the mentorship of former principal Ed Hodgkinson, which he would again enjoy in his new role.

Mr Bartlett said Wairarapa was a “special part of the country” and he hoped to encourage the Wainuioru School children to connect with the environment.

It was a big part of the school’s “unique character”.

Board of Trustees Chair Paul Oliver said Mr Bartlett had stood out among the 13 applicants for the position.

“We had a great range of applicants,” Mr Oliver said.

“Gene stood out because of his community involvement, outgoing personality and leadership.”

They were grateful to the team at Lakeview School for being a part of Mr Bartlett’s welcome to Wainuioru School.

A powhiri was held in the Wainuioru Hall on Monday, and children from both schools sang for Mr Bartlett.