Sunday, September 5, 2021

Still don't know what I was waitin' for and my time was runnin' wild (David Bowie)

Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash

hanges, Part 2.

As I was reading Mark Manson's book (a counterintuitive approach to living a good life) it got me reflecting on why I've changed schools and locations so many times throughout my 38 year-long career in education (so far). 

Mark calls these the metrics or values involved in my decision making.

As I did this, I realised that there are different layers to the metrics/values.

So first up (deeper dive in the next post) - here's a rundown of the surface realities involved in my changes. 

New Plymouth Boys' High School to Macleans College

I'd met Jacky in 1983 (my first year of teaching), got married (yes, to Jacky) and had a son. My widowed dad lived in Auckland. We decided that's where we needed to be. So, we moved.

Macleans College to Waimea College

Two more children later and, even though I loved Macleans, the charismatic principal was moving on and I was feeling ambitious for some leadership. I couldn't see a route for that at Macleans and so we moved to Nelson when I was promoted to assistant Head of English.

Waimea College to Mt. Albert Grammar School (MAGS)

Pretty quickly I was promoted to Head of English, plus we had our fourth child, but Jacky became unwell with a respiratory illness, and she was keen to retrain as a nurse. Which meant either Dunedin or Auckland. Auckland had the better climate for her, and as a MAGS old boy I'd long had an ambition of returning there as a staff member. So back to Auckland we went.

MAGS to Cambridge High School

Another promotion at MAG - this time to the senior leadership team as Head of Boarding, but the full on 24/7 life in the boarding school wasn't for me long term. By now I wanted to be a Principal, and to do that I needed the intermediate step of Deputy Principal. So, we went to Cambridge.

Cambridge High School to The King John School (Essex, UK)

I'd loved being the DP and the acting Principal for a term, but it was clear that the incumbent principal wasn't going to leave anytime soon and a trip to Edinburgh in 2003 had ignited a passion to live and work in the UK. So, that's what we did.

The King John School to Stratford High School

Family back in NZ needed us home and Jacky was keen for us to be back in Taranaki if we could. So, we left the UK.

Stratford High School to Doha, Qatar (Cognition Education)

After three years as Principal, my father died and my heart wasn't in it. I was in crisis actually. Plus, many of my colleagues signed up for lucrative positions in the Middle East. I needed to get away, out of NZ, and lick my wounds. Doha in Qatar was the perfect place.

Qatar to United Arabic Emirates (UAE) - specifically, Al Ain

We had to leave Qatar when the contract ended. After we returned to Taranaki, Cognition Education pursued me to take another contract in the UAE. I was a bit reluctant as I was keen to enroll in Massey's PhD programme. But I shelved that idea; we went back to the Middle East.

UAE to Wuxi (China)

We had bought a house in Hawke's Bay (Otane) while we were in Al Ain but when we returned, there were no jobs anywhere in Hawke's Bay that I could even apply for. A friend asked me if I'd consider going to Wuxi in China to lead an English school for prospective pilots. Of course, I said. Why not? Crazy? You bet. Just before leaving Jacky had a serious health issue to deal with which delayed us a month.

Wuxi to Woodford House

All the while, I was still pursuing a more stable job in Hawke's Bay (my Chinese employer stopped paying the staff, so we all had to find new employment anyway). I applied for the Head of English job at Woodford House. My CV by this time was looking like I moved around a lot, so I needed a secure/stable job. Woodford was perfect.

Woodford House to Westmount (now OneSchool Global NZ) - Kaipara Campus (now Maungaturoto)

After four years at Woodford, I was itching to return to a senior leadership role and getting a tad grumpy in the process. That wasn't going to happen at Woodford, so we moved to Maungaturoto and I became Campus Principal at Westmount - a private school for children of Plymouth Brethren families.  

Westmount to Focus School (now OneSchool Global UK) - Kenley/ Carshalton campuses

I felt I had unfinished business in the UK and the idea of moving within OneSchool Global's worldwide network of campuses was vastly appealing. Even though I loved the Kaipara job, the urge to go back to the UK was too strong. So, we moved to Caterham, Surrey.

Focus to OneSchool Global NZ - Hastings/Gisborne campuses

Only once in my career have I been the wrong person in the wrong place. Usually, it had been the opposite story - my timing had been uncanny and my leadership/management experiences (aside from the minor glitch of not being paid in Wuxi) uniformly brilliant. In a word, I'd become complacent - thinking that my NZ style of leadership would fit in any context. I was very wrong. The blow to my ego during this experience was a good, albeit painful, lesson to learn. We returned to NZ in time for our grandson's arrival. We clearly were meant to be close by for Jade and Asher. It was a lucky break, for all sorts of reasons, including the UK's response to Covid-19 compared to NZ's.

Those background details bring us roughly up-to-date for Jacky and me: living in Takapau, both of us commuting an hour to work in Hastings, and roughly an hour to Palmerston North where Jade and Asher live.

I notice that I haven't yet really touched on the underlying metrics, the values involved throughout this pathway up to now...

I'll get to that on the next post.

So, stay tuned!

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