Our scholarship partnership with Yendarra School is one of the things we are most proud about. It’s part of our HHH values that for every 400 paying HHH students, we offer 20 full scholarships to students at low-decile schools to receive our lessons. Yendarra School is the first school we’ve partnered with for the scholarship programme.
In this edition of our blog, we loved catching up with the Principal of Yendarra School, Susan Dunlop, a very special lady, for a 10-question interview.
HHH: What do you love most about Yendarra School?
SD: Our people are what make Yendarra so special. Beautiful tamariki, their parents and whānau, and of course our amazing staff. I love that we all live whānaungatanga (think of the collective ‘we’ rather than ‘me’) and show aroha (love and care) to others.
HHH: What do you love most about Yendarra School students?
SD: I love everything about our tamariki – their energy, their talent, their resilience, their spirituality, their respect for others, their gratitude for everything that is done for them. I love that they make us smile with pride.
HHH: What are the biggest challenges in running a low-decile school?
SD: The only challenges we have at Yendarra are the same challenges facing most Auckland schools at the moment and that is recruiting the best teachers. It is an absolute privilege to work in the community that I do, as I learn such a lot from the talent that surrounds me. I see wonderful parenting and strong family values in action.
I thoroughly enjoy working in a decile 10 environment as kids are kids anywhere. As my personal values align with Maori and Pasifika this environment allows me to flourish. A low decile school may not be for everyone but for our amazing team and myself, we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It is about finding the place that inspires us to be our best.
I guess the misconception about a low decile school’s rating and the incorrect thinking that this is related to the school’s effectiveness can be challenging at times and I have learnt to simply smile at the mistake. Yendarra has received consecutive top awards from the Education Review Office (ERO) and was in the 11% of schools across the country to be recognised by ERO in their 2015 publication ‘Wellbeing for Children’s Success at Primary School’ with our extensive focus on wellbeing.
HHH: How did you first hear about Head Held High?
SD: We were very fortunate to hear about Head Held High through networking contacts we have made through our tamariki wellbeing practices.
HHH: What attracted you to our programme?
SD: Oral language is so important, and being a confident speaker can take people places. Maori and Pasifika communities have strong orators and we hear so many brilliant speakers. When Kate Laurence contacted us about the possibility of working at Yendarra we were delighted as this offered another layer to our student well being practices. The more great role models we can offer our kids the better they will be.
HHH: Have you seen our lessons in action? If so, what has been your impression?
SD: The teachers are amazing and we know that the success of any programme is the people. Our kids love Ben who is their current teacher who connects really well with them and they reciprocate his respect. Our children have been fully engaged and happy to participate. HHH describe their teachers as “incredibly talented, warm and energetic” and this is so true.
HHH: Can you share any benefits that you’ve seen or heard about that your students have gained from HHH lessons?
SD: The benefits we see from the HHH lessons is confidence, improved communication skills and strengthening the creative arts programme. We literally see tamariki ‘Heads Held High’ when they are attending this programme.
HHH: In your view, what are the biggest changes that the NZ school system is facing in the near future?
SD: It has been thirty years since Tomorrow’s Schools were introduced and there is an independent taskforce conducting a review on our current system. There will be changes coming. The use of digital tools and the impact this could have on children’s brains and well being.
HHH: What excites you about the NZ school system in the near future?
SD: The inspiring stories we hear of schools who despite having classrooms without teachers, are doing amazing things. The ‘have a go’ attitude, innovation and resiliency that we are seeing as a result of the teacher shortage.
HHH: What would be your #1 piece of advice for parents of young NZers as they prepare their children for the NZ of tomorrow?
SD: My advice to parents would be to simply enjoy every precious moment of your child’s development as they grow up too quickly.
At Head Held High, we really treasure our special relationship with Yendarra School. Susan herself is a dynamic, infectiously enthusiastically and caring Principal, who shares a similar ethos to us about how to educate and love young New Zealanders.
We’re proud of the contribution we make to the 20 scholarship students who experience our programme for free each year, but equally we’re thankful for the lessons our teachers receive in reciprocation from teaching such a group of talented, polite and thankful Yendarra students.
For some more insight into the special environment is Yendarra School, check out two of their exposé videos for their Healthy Habits and Water Is Best programmes – both outstanding initiatives (and very catchy songs) in their own right.