‘Retired’ principal heads back to school

Back on the job . . . Mossburn Primary School acting Principal Ross Willcocks has come out of retirement to take the leadership reins at the school while a new principal is found. PHOTO HELEN MCFELIN

What is a retired principal to do?

When Mossburn Primary School needed a hand, Ross Willcocks came out of retirement and headed back to the classroom as acting principal while the board of trustees recruited a new principal.

‘‘[I] offered to help while the board goes through the appointment process.

‘‘I am happy to be able to come back and support,’’ he said.

Mr Willcocks is commuting from Dunedin and living with friends in Mossburn from Monday to Friday.

‘‘It is an amazing place — I have a soft spot for the Mossburn community.’’

Mr Willcocks began his career as a principal in Mossburn in the 1980s.

When he and his wife were in Mossburn as a young couple with young children, the community was ‘‘super’’ and they ‘‘ just enjoyed it’’, he said.

From there he headed further north for his career before returning for another three-year stint from 2019 to 2021.

Rural schools were finding it hard to attract and retain principals, and he described the situation as pretty dire.

‘‘The role is so complex these days.

‘‘You have financial management, property management, student management.

‘‘It is incredibly difficult, not very well paid, you have a multitude of responsibilities not just in teaching.’’

Despite this, rural schools had much to recommend them, Mr Willcocks said.

‘‘It’s a great learning environment often in fabulous supportive community.’’

  • On Monday, Mossburn Primary School board of trustees announced the appointment of Tracey Doak as the new principal, starting term 4.