Starting a new job in the middle of the Covid›19 lockdown was a daunting prospect for new Waitahuna School principal Ruth Selcraig.
“I really felt sorry for the pupils, suddenly they had a new teacher to talk to online, someone who didn’t know them and yet we all managed to make it work,” she said.
Ms Selcraig said it was a stroke of luck that allowed her to take up the post following the retirement of former principal Vicki Johnstone.
“I was teaching deaf and hard of hearing children at Dunedin and one day I was asked what did I want to do in the future. I said to be a country school teacher, then three days later I spotted this job and applied for it.”
She credits her application to an online video about the school, produced by the children, which caught her eye and convinced her to apply.
“It was wonderful, so I applied and was successful. Right in the middle of lockdown I started as their new teacher.
“They had never met me before so initially it was a bit tricky, but we soon mastered distance learning, thanks to many helpful and very supportive parents.
She said it was easier because Waitahuna was a unique teaching environment.
“Here we are able to adapt the curriculum to suit the interests and needs of the pupils, we have a great big outdoors area around the school and I’ve even been teaching science classes out under the big oak trees there.
“It has a real family feel to it and that’s what I love about being here, that country feel surrounded by a great community.”
Ms Selcraig came into education at a later stage in her life.
“I began helping out at schools when my children started. I was a teacher’s aide first, then trained as a primary school teacher, graduating in 2013.”
She then taught at Arthur St and Green Island schools in Dunedin.
“This year at Waitahuna we are going to be very busy.
‘‘Major works that were scheduled to begin during the lockdown will now start over the Christmas period and they include a new indoor›outdoor learning space with a covered deck, re›roofing of the older school block and re›cladding of the swimming pool.
Ms Selcraig said she will also be visiting other schools in Otago to look at how they cope with energy usage, generation and conservation.
“This is the best job I have ever had. The kids are great and the community support is magnificent,” she said.