WESTERN SPRINGS COLLEGE
Nga Puna O Waiorea
 Principal's Reflections 01/06/2008  
About the Woolf Fisher Fellowship

Woolf Fisher Fellowship
Rewarding educational excellence in teaching

The original Woolf Fisher Fellowships were awarded in 1960. Designed to send leading secondary teachers and principals overseas to examine different teaching practices, the Fellowships are now awarded to secondary, intermediate and primary principals, polytechnic senior managers and secondary teachers. Through the Fellowships, the Trust acknowledges and encourages excellence in educational leadership and ‘in-school’ practice in New Zealand...read more

REFLECTIONS FROM THE WOOLF FISHER AWARD

Chicago: Week One

“ This is Ken Havill. He’s a principal visiting us from New Zealand.”
“ Sir, do you know The Flight of the Conchords?”
I doubt there’s ever been a phenomenon to match Flight of the Conchords for putting NZ (“ It’s not in Australia.”) on the map. Wherever I go, Bret, Jermaine and Rhys have been there before me! And it’s not just the students who love these guys. From the physics teacher at Jones College Prep, who had seen their concert earlier this month, to the principal of Northside College, who has a copy of their award winning CD, the addiction is spreading fast.
Normally, I answer the question with, “ I was the first person on the planet to buy their album,” which is actually not far from the truth. This guarantees instant warm fuzzies. Or “ I was their manager before Rhys,” which has led to some hilarious conversations about how I might have succeeded in being worse than him. And, of course, I never fail to direct the kids to Eagle Versus Shark.

I would like to tell you all that I have already succeeded in having a meeting with the mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley.

I was chatting away with the assistant principal and the chair (head) of English at Whitney Young High School on Tuesday while waiting for my taxi to arrive. After an hour and 20 minutes the AP asked one of the security officers – there have been 25 student murders in and around Chicago schools this year – to drive me back to the Holiday Inn. I soon discovered that this African-American man was also a pastor at a local church, incidentally, not the one that Barack Obama has parted company with.

He told me about his post-Katrina work in New Orleans helping the homeless, bemoaning the money being spent in Iraq which wasn’t going to the needy down south. The trip through the downtown area became somewhat circuitous when the pastor generously decided to show me various examples of the stunning architecture in the city.

Then, “ Ken, let me introduce you to our mayor.” My passenger window came down and the pastor beeped his horn and waved to the limousine next to us at the lights. The back seat window of the adjacent vehicle duly reciprocated and I was introduced to Mr. R. M. Daley. “ Thank you so much, Ken, for coming to see some of our fine schools here in Chicago. You make sure you have a fine rest of the day.” And you can be sure that the acceleration of the mayoral vehicle away from the intersection was not quite matched by the pastor’s car.

At Walter Payton College the next day I was struck by the steady business enjoyed by the volunteer administrator at the voter registration desk. It didn’t take me long chatting to the Grade 12 students queueing up to establish their motivation. Mr. Obama has overwhelming support among these first-time voters.

Yesterday (Saturday) I relaxed and put on my tourist clothes. After five hours at the truly amazing Museum of Science and Industry, I strolled through the campus of the University of Chicago: lovely, old, ivy-covered, limestone buildings with grassy, tree-shaded quadrangles and groups of reclining students, chatting and savouring the prospect of a well earned summer break.

Ken Havill