Deputy principal takes step up

SHARE
Menzies College Principal Gerry Ward is passing the college's korowai (mantle) of leadership to deputy principal Kath Luoni, who will take over the principal's position in 2020. Photo: Sandy Eggleston

A love for the outdoors has led teacher Kath Luoni on a trail to not only teaching at a school but also to her first appointment as principal.

The deputy principal of Menzies College since 2010, Mrs Luoni will take up the role of the college’s sixth principal in the new year.

She will take over the role from Gerry Ward, who has been the principal since 2011.

Mrs Luoni said taking pupils out of the classroom to learn outdoors was one of the strengths of the college.

“I initially applied for the DP’s job at Menzies because I wanted to be part of a school which valued outdoor education,” Mrs Luoni said.

“I love the outdoors.”

In her spare time Mrs Luoni enjoyed tramping and kayaking.

She loved teaching.

“I like working with students to open their eyes to the possibilities beyond what they already know.”

Mrs Luoni was also an avid fan of netball but its appeal was more than the physical act of chasing a ball around.

“It’s that team environment, it’s the support, the encouragement, the joy of looking forward to it, the anguish of losing and being part of something that’s not achievable on your own.”

It did not matter whether the team won or not.

“It’s the team spirit that you build within it and the fun you have and the growth.

“That’s all part of education too.”

Having been in the school for nine years she had built relationships with the staff and school community.

“You feel you’ve got some relational trust to fall back on.”

It was only in the past five years she had considered the possibility of leading a school, but now believed it was time.

“There’s lots of learning before you know you are ready.”

Mrs Luoni had grown up in Gore attending St Mary’s School and St Peter’s College before attending the University of Otago.

In 1990 she trained as a secondary school teacher in Invercargill.

“I always knew I enjoyed teaching.

“I love people.”

After stints teaching in Invercargill and Christchurch Mrs Luoni returned with her family to Gore in 2003 where she taught at Gore High School.

Mr Ward said he was very pleased Mrs Luoni was following in his footsteps as principal.

“She has worked tirelessly to make our school what it is today,” Mr Ward said.

“She has a clear vision as to where we can further develop and great energy levels to ensure her ideas gain traction.”

Mrs Luoni knew the pupils well.

“Her established relationships in the community will enable a reasonably seamless transition into this new lead role.

“The staff and students fully respect Kath as a leader and I’m sure they’ll happily join with her to continue the excellent progress Menzies College has made and recently recognised by the Education Review Office.”