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Principal appointed new chief of REAP

Darren Kerr has been appointed as the next chief executive of Wairarapa Rural Education Activities Programme [REAP] after serving as principal and teacher at Whareama School for the past 11 years.

Since taking over as principal in April 2012, Kerr has presided over an increase in the school roll from 27 to over 50 pupils and, in 2021, was the winner of New Zealand’s primary school National Excellence in Teaching Award.

Whareama School board of trustees chair Abi Fairbrother said Kerr’s tenure as principal had seen the school grow from strength to strength.

Under his leadership, Whareama built an outdoor “forest classroom” and developed a localised, values-based curriculum focussed on creating RURAL learners, an acronym for respectful, unique, resourceful achievers and leaders.

Kerr said that inclusivity, fantastic teachers, and a supportive community were the best features of the small rural school.

“At larger schools, you might try and send your best team to a tournament, but at Whareama, we just put together a team.

“When I’m talking to parents, I always tell them that if they send their kids here, they’ll get to try everything and do everything,” he said.

When the school term ends in two weeks, Kerr will move to his new job as chief executive of REAP Wairarapa.

The organisation runs programmes and courses for all ages: from early childhood to adult learners.

Kerr said he is looking forward to joining the team and using his 25 years of experience in education to help grow and build the “fantastic organisation.”

REAP Wairarapa board chair Janine Devenport said Kerr will bring something new to the organisation.

“We believe that while Darren is new to the role, he will honour the heritage and history of our amazing organisation and then add his extra flair and dynamic to it,” she said.

Kerr said his first job at REAP will be to build relationships with.

“I’ll want to get to know everyone in the team and see where I can support them and help them grow their passion.”

Nathan Hill, deputy principal at Carterton School, will replace Kerr as principal of Whareama School.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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