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Douglas Park principal retires

By Chelsea Boyle

[email protected]

The man who steadied the helm during a Masterton school merger is about to step down as principal.

Douglas Park School principal Dick Brown is retiring at the end of term 2 to spend more time doing the little things he wishes he had more time for.

Mr Brown started teaching in 1970, following three years at a teacher’s college in Hamilton – as a music lover it is a time he remembers fondly as the turning point for The Beatles.

Much of his early teaching career was spent in Waikato and Bay of Plenty, back then he even drove the school bus.

After a decade-long respite working in the kiwi fruit export industry, he was drawn back to teaching.

Mr Brown handled the merger of Cornwall Street School and Masterton West.

“Nine schools in and around Masterton were reducing to five,” he said.

“That’s where the really exciting part of the journey started for me.

“Not many principals get the opportunity of starting a whole new school.”

It was exciting to implement the ideas he harboured about learning, he said.

For Mr Brown, everything he wished to impart is best typified by the PRIDE principles that his pupils know inside and out.

PRIDE principles are the five-major values Douglas Park School pupils are encouraged to aspire to.

The values are: peaceful, respectful, independence, dare to dream and excellence.

In those early Douglas Park School days, instilling peacefulness was important, he said.

Now, parents tell Mr Brown their children chirp the PRIDE values back at them.

Over the years, Douglas Park School embraced a modern learning atmosphere.

Walls came down between classrooms, increasing the interaction between pupils and a team of teachers.

Douglas Park School was the first school in Wairarapa to get solar panels donated by electricity company Genesis, Mr Brown said.

“On the arts side, the teachers have developed kapa haka, choir, and a Bollywood group.”

Mr Brown was also pleased with the high level of sports participation in the school.

“Sport involvement is important for kids, and I acknowledge not every kid is into sport and that’s ok,” he said.

“But it is about keeping them physically active.

“Sport is such a wonderful entry point for parents to get involved in school life.”

Mr Brown said he would miss his colleagues, both at Douglas Park School and farther afield leading other schools.

There had been a growth in the idea at a principal’s level that there was a collective responsibility for all the children in Masterton, not just the ones in your own “patch”, he said.

Mr Brown said he knew it was time on move on.

He was looking forward to spending more time walking, cycling, kayaking and exploring the outdoor wonders of Wairarapa.

It was also a great opportunity to spend more time with his wife Barbara, who retired from Masterton Intermediate School, he said.

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