After a stint as acting principal of Cromwell Primary School last year, Danella Smallridge knew she wanted more.
She starts as the new principal of Lumsden Primary School this year after Callum Tytler left his role at the end of 2021.
“I never thought about myself in the principal role. Then I got a taste of what it was like and I really liked it. It was great fun.
“Lots of challenges in the day. I kind of thrive on a wee bit of chaos, so I quite like that.”
She had taught at Cromwell Primary School for 21 years and was ready for her next challenge, she said.
“My principal was really believing in me and telling me that I’d be a great principal.”
This led her to apply for the opening at Lumsden School.
“It was the only principal role I applied for.”
This was despite principal positions being available at other schools, but there was a special reason she chose Lumsden Primary School, she said.
The school’s values of “kindness and doing your best” stood out to her.
“The school is an important part of the community.
“Life-long learning is their goal. I was like, I relate to this. This sounds like a place I want to work.”
It was the kind of school she knew she could add value to, she said.
“The most important things in a school are not things, they are people. That’s what I really believe with a passion.”
She was not looking to change the way the school did things.
“My priority in my first 100 days is to get to know the strengths of all my staff and see how we can use their strengths more for the benefit of everybody.”
One of her own strengths was her “special passion for kids with learning difficulties.”
She had studied dyslexia with an University of Otago researcher in 2008, funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand.
“When one approach doesn’t work, helping people to find a new way is my point of difference.”
She liked creating memorable learning experiences by getting hands-on.
She was “a bit sad” to leave Cromwell but she was excited about her new role.
She had already met the staff and some of the pupils late last year and was looking forward to “building those relationships and getting to know everybody”.
She was staying with a friend while she and her husband, Maru, found a house to buy in the area.