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Education managers and school principals from across the region will convene in Nadi from 14 to 18 August for the regional summit on Advancing Resilience and Inclusion through Sustainable School Leadership to update the Regional School Leadership Standards that were established in 2012.
The Summit will draw on the expertise, experience, and knowledge of the culture and context of the 15 countries in the region, regional and international institutions, donor partners, and international agencies to review the Regional School Leadership Standards.
In this article, we meet George Saemane, Principal of Florence Young Christian School in Solomon Islands, sharing his school leadership experiences and the modern-day challenges principals face in the Pacific. The regional summit discussions will aid in formulating a framework that encapsulates the ideal attributes and professional ethics of a regional school principal, and in reviewing the current regional school leadership standards and identifying areas that are still relevant and those that are no longer relevant for principals.
1- How many years were you teaching before you became a school principal?
I was in the teaching profession for about 17 years before I became a school principal in Solomon Islands.
2- What motivates you to be a school principal every day?
Firstly, I am a Christian and my motivation comes from the scriptures every day. Secondly. I believe my teachers, students and staff are images of God, gifts of God and my successors. I believe God has placed me in the position to ensure they reach their full potential in life. Thirdly, I see myself as a “Grandfather and my teachers as my children and my students as my grandchildren”.
3- What were some of the challenges that you experienced when you transitioned from being a teacher to becoming a school principal?
I had several challenges when I transitioned from being a classroom teacher to school principalship but one that I needed the most help with was school financial management e.g., budgeting, monitoring, and reporting. I was fortunate to be in a School that had a qualified Administrator and an Accountant, and I was able to learn from the two gentlemen to overcome my challenge in finance. Later, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) provided school grant training and that gave me confidence later to deal with this area in my leadership.
4- As a school principal, you are expected to lead, manage, help with teaching and learning, and to maintain a good relationship with the school community.
- Which of the above would you spend the most time doing daily and why?
I spend most of my time in trans-visioning (the process of passing on my translation of the school vision to ensure that all stakeholders understand, believe, own and drive the vision) ensuring that my teachers, students, and parents understand the school vision and the school mission to effectively benefit the teachers in their teaching and learning, the students in their learning and the parents to be fully informed of how their child could fully benefit from school. I lead the School Based Professional Development for my school leaders, teaching staff, ancillary staff, student leaders, and parents’ collaboration. I play an oversight role in teaching and learning and assessments, including all other aspects of the school but the leading roles are assigned to teachers.
- Which of the above would you have liked to spend more time doing daily? What might be the factors that prevent you from spending more time on it?
I wish I had spent a bit more time on the core activity of any school and that is “teaching and learning”. The school I inherited had an excellent academic record and therefore I see my role as ensuring that I concentrate on other areas that I believe will improve leadership in the teaching and learning process.