It’s the end of an era as Ōhaupō School prepares to say goodbye to its long-serving principal, Sue McLocklan.
When she closes the door to her principal’s office for the last time at the end of the term, she will take with her the voices – and memories – of generations of children.
McLocklan steps down from the top job after spending 27 years of her teaching career at Ōhaupō.
She has been principal since 2001, first arriving as deputy principal in 1996.
Her teaching career began at Hamilton’s Fifth Avenue Primary School and includes time at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Bernard Fergusson in Ngāruawāhia, Whatawhata School, Cambridge Middle School and Tamahere Model Country
“Ōhaupō is a beautiful school community in which everyone is important, everyone matters and everybody has a contribution to make,” Sue said.
“The input into our school is generational – third fourth and fifth generations of families have been here.”
That “strong sense of history” underpins the school – which Sue said opened 154 years ago in 1869 and is believed to be the first school built in the Waikato – as much as it does the entire Ōhaupō community.
The nearby Ōhaupō Memorial Hall celebrated its centenary earlier this month.
“In my time at school, we have gone from 140 students to 212 and from six teachers to 10.”
When talking change, Sue said one can’t go past the impact of technology on the education sector.
“That change is inevitable though… as principal I have loved the opportunity to
encourage positive change.”
Listening to people and seeking to empower others has been paramount.
“Everybody has different strengths – it’s about how you nurture those.
“That’s not just about staff, it’s students and their parents too. We’re all in this together and knowing that builds a strong culture.”
Admittedly, such a storied tenure is somewhat hard to summarise -though a 2005 visit by then Prime minister Helen Clark to open the school’s new admin block was one key high light.
Growing tikanga principles and te reo Māori has also been important.
“The interconnectedness of running the Treaty of Waitangi through our curriculum has been a lovely opportunity which helps us build our tūrangawaewae, our place of standing.”
Ōhaupō School is known for its involvement in Anzac Day each year, the Niwa Waikato Regional Science and Technology Fair, and has a reputation for doing well in speech competitions.
Personally, qualifying as a Master of Education through the University of Waikato in 2012 was also a high point for Sue.
“Our students are our greatest ambassadors. As they go on to different high schools our hope is they become confident, happy, well-rounded citizens.
“I will absolutely miss them, the students keep you young… you can guarantee they are going to make me come back and judge the speeches though,” Sue smiled.
First on her list of priorities when she leaves is family time.
“The greatest thing I’m looking forward to is having more choices regarding what I do with my schedule.
“After 27 years, how do you go about thanking all those who have made such a broad range on contributions to school?
“Absolutely everybody contributes. We all sow seeds that are watered by others.
“What is the most important thing in the world? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.”
Current Te Awamutu Primary School deputy principal Chris Rennie will succeed her at Ōhaupō.
Bruce Mitchell, now at Paterangi School, will become Ōhaupō School’s new deputy principal.