By Geoff Vause
A woman has been handed the helm at Greytown School for the first time in the school’s 160-year history.
Patrice O’Connor was the only “out of town” candidate for the job, and visited the school to meet the kids and teachers as part of her application.
Miss O’Connor, 40, is currently deputy principal at Te Mata Primary School in Havelock North which has 620 students, and has held that role for seven years.
But the new boss of the 340-student Greytown School is far from being an out-of-towner.
Miss O’Connor was raised in Masterton until the age of 12, attending Masterton East and West schools and Hiona Intermediate, one of the schools which merged to become Lakeview School.
Her first teaching job fresh from training college was at Cornwall St in 2003, and she was part of the merger to create Douglas Park where she became a senior teacher until taking up the deputy principal position at Te Mata Primary in 2009.
Her sister Stephanie Belcher and brother James O’Connor both live at Masterton.
Miss O’Connor said she was a keen netball player, and active in her church.
She was excited to be “coming back home” and appreciated the welcoming support of the board in what was her first principal’s role.
“I didn’t know I was the first woman principal at Greytown so that’s exciting.
“It’s a lovely feeling and I’m looking forward to the opportunities ahead,” Miss O’Connor said.
Board of trustees chairman Alistair Plimmer said he had asked the question at the board meeting where Miss O’Connor won unanimous support for the job, and had done some checking, and it appeared she was the first woman to take over the principal’s desk since the school was founded in 1857.
“Miss O’Connor was the only candidate from out of town, and she visited the school and had morning tea with the staff as part of her application,” Mr Plimmer said.
He said the board of trustees held interviews over the weekend and “met some exceptional candidates”.
“We were . . . unanimous in appointing Patrice to lead our school into the future,” Mr Plimmer said.
“Patrice will bring a proven history of successful leadership and innovation to Greytown School and a wide range of experiences, interests and perspectives,” he said.
“She also has an understanding of our region and community having grown up in Wairarapa and having family and friends here.
“We believe Patrice will ably preserve and treasure Greytown School’s unique traditions and ways, while taking us on a new and exciting pathway of modern and vibrant learning into the future.”
Miss O’Connor will join Greytown School at the start of 2017, replacing Kevin Mackay who retires at the end of this year.