Nga Puna O Waiorea

Farewell, Linda Dillon

Sadness at the news of the resignation of associate principal, Linda Dillon, will soon give way I am sure to willing and widespread acknowledgement that Western Springs College has been immensely fortunate to have benefited for more than a decade from Linda’s leadership. For educationists of Linda’s calibre are indeed rare.

I remember well meeting and conversing with Linda back in 1998 when she expressed an interest in the position of deputy principal at WSC. Linda made it clear that she was looking for a school where she would be accorded a degree of autonomy and the freedom to give expression to her own distinctive personal style. To our delight since that day Linda has never stopped “ putting on the style. ” Yet more notably Linda’s time at Springs has been distinguished by laying down the substance of many significant educational developments.

One of Linda’s key portfolios has been staff professional development. During a period when assessment has dominated and at times almost suffocated the education community Linda has stood for the primacy of enlightened pedagogy. A creative and innovative teacher herself, Linda has challenged teachers at Springs to constantly hone their professional teaching practice through acquaintance with well researched learning theories and through critical dialogue with their colleagues and students. It should be added that during her time with us Linda also coordinated the WSC beginning teacher registration programme and in that role personally shaped the successful development of many of our younger teachers.

Linda coordinated the guidance and discipline network at Springs. She inspired a collective of guidance, counselling, health, and learning support staff to strive to deliver student services equal to the best anywhere in the country. It was Linda’s vision which led to the establishment of the hugely successful learning centre. For Linda guidance and discipline was always about clearing the way for academic achievement.

Linda will be remembered for her sense of fun. Certainly, she took her responsibility for staff welfare very seriously, and nurtured many colleagues through tough times. But she knew the importance of humour and her laughter often announced her presence. And so before our spirits could lag too much we had another Secret Friend week, or the next Spot theTeacher photograph competition. Whether it was Hat Day, international languages costume day or the staff talent quest entry, Linda was a joyful participant. Linda also loved to indulge her talent for verse, whether at staff or student farewells; I called her our poet laureate.

It is my hope that rather than despair about losing her staff will be cognisant of the ways in which they have been empowered by Linda’s leadership and resolve determinedly to build on her profound contribution to Western Springs College so that the school goes from strength to strength as it did during Linda’s time with us.

It is planned to farewell Linda in the staffroom from 3.30pm on Friday, 13 August.

Ken Havill