'Sad joy' for Spotswood College principal moving on after eight years
9 Jun 2018
Spotswood College principal Mark Bowden says he is struggling through "a sense of sad joy" as he prepares to depart the school after eight years in charge.
It's the right time for both him and the school, he said.
"I've got no plans at this stage. Just having a sense of a new adventure of some description is exciting in itself," he said.
"I will miss the school. I'll miss the kids. I will miss education; I've been doing this job for a long time, 20 years in senior leadership roles.
"I'm currently struggling through a sense of sad joy."
The Paritutu rock climbing accident in 2012, which saw two Spotswood students killed, is never far from the school's consciousness, he said.
"That was as tough as it gets really.
"The tragedy happened on a Wednesday, and on the Friday I was walking back, I'd been over to see the international students, they lost Felipe (Melo); so I'd been talking to them and I was walking back across the school. As kids were leaving the school, a junior student came up to me - because we have a statement that says we are diverse, inclusive and caring - and he said to me, 'Oh Mr Bowden, we really are a caring school aren't we?'
"And it just undid me, and I had to sort of scoot across the campus back into my office and close the door because it was a pretty raw time for us all."
Bowden said over his time the focus had shifted from one-size-fits-all to meeting a student's individual needs.
"We've moved from education being something that happens to you, to education being something that happens with you."
Bowden became principal of Spotswood College in 2010, moving into the position after eight years at Opunake High School, his first principalship.
He will be replaced at the start of term four by Pātea Area School's Nicola Ngarewa, with whom he used to work at Opunake.
"She will take the foundations that have been laid and really move it forward."
Bowden said he had chosen education because he was a people person, and he had held a number of roles including Physical Education, primary teaching and school counsellor.
His one piece of advice to his students was "say no to yourself".
"These apply as much to Mark Bowden as they do to Jacinda Ardern or Queen Elizabeth II or even Donald Trump. But these are the four little words that are the key to success. If you can do this you can do anything."
** Mark has not only passionately served the education sector for many years - he has been an avid supporter of school sport, serving as a regional representative for both TSSSA and NZSSSC. All the best with your future endeavours Mark and thank you for your contribution.