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Chanel’s new head loving it here

Chanel College’s new principal Debi Marshall-Lobb. PHOTO/ELISA VORSTER

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Communication isn’t a problem for the new principal of Masterton’s Chanel College.

Debi Marshall-Lobb is fluent in all three of New Zealand’s official languages – English, Te Reo Maori and New Zealand sign language.

“I love languages and culture,” she says.

“We live in enlightened times where we like to celebrate all cultures.

“In Aotearoa, 2018, we’re at the stage where we’re aware of the uniqueness of other cultures and all languages and cultures have the ability to enhance our understanding of the world and each other.”

That’s why you won’t hear the students call her ‘Mrs Marshall-Lobb’, she has long been referred to by students as ‘Whaea Debi’ – a Maori term of respect – and that was the preference of the Chanel students.

Marshall-Lobb has almost four decades of teaching experience, including time working in special education and with the hearing impaired.

She had no idea she would fall in love with the region when she started as acting principal in term 1 this year, having originally taken up the role to assist the school until it had found a permanent replacement.

She had no intention of staying long.

“The longer I stayed the more I thought, ‘What a great community’,” she said.

Marshall-Lobb was officially named principal effective from term 3 and brings an impressive resume to the table.

Before arriving at Chanel, she spent the past 10 years as principal of St Paul’s College in Feilding, and has lectured at Massey University’s pre-service teacher training programme.

She was the foundation principal for Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Manawatu in 1990 – the only Maori immersion school south of the Bombay Hills at the time.

“And I’m proud to say it’s still going strong.”

She said Chanel College was a great fit for her as the school’s values aligned with her own.

“I want young people to grow up with positive learning experiences.

“We want to produce good citizens who contribute positively to society and Chanel focuses on the formation of the young person through faith-based education.”

Marshall-Lobb said it was also an exciting time to join the school as it was in the process of modernising its learning environments, allowing easier access to technology.

She hoped her time at the school would help shape students who think critically and examine what’s in their hearts, saying education was more than just learning how to read and write.

“We know the values we want to promote – we want respectful and resilient students.

“The concept of family, kindness and positivity resonates really strongly with us.”

Although she was born and bred in Manawatu, Marshall-Lobb was excited to have some Wairarapa connections in her family.

“On my mother’s side there’s Rangitane and my husband’s grandmother was born in Papawai.”

She said she was learning about the region through the support of her students, who went out of their way to tell her where to go and sites to visit.

Marshall-Lobb said she had settled in well thanks to the help and support of Wairarapa people who were her favourite thing about her new home.

“The students, staff, board members and parish have been fantastic and really supportive.

“It’s great to be around committed people and like minds.”

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