Profile: Mary Woods, Matahui School

Why have you chosen to come to Matahui School?

My husband and I purchased a block of land three years ago and built our home. Our new property was not far from Matahui School. Shortly before we moved into our home, the Principal’s position at Matahui School was advertised. At the time I did not know anything about this hidden gem, so researched the school and wow, the more I looked into what Matahui School was all about the more I wanted to be a part of it.  I feel very honoured to put my heart and soul into being the Principal of Matahui School.


How would you describe Matahui School?

Matahui School is situated in rural setting amongst beautiful mature trees and native birdlife. There is an energy and calm about our environment. Matahui School is a place where students can experiment through hands-on learning experiences. They are encouraged to think creatively to get a result. Students feel safe and respected while playing within the 2.5-hectare area. The grass is green and lush where students can run barefoot and climb the huge trees. Matahui School provides an environment where you can be a true Kiwi kid.


What do you aim to achieve as a principal?

I feel a huge level of responsibility as a principal – I am a first-time principal. Through my leadership I hope to build on the amazing reputation that Matahui School already has in our community. I will always strive to improve on outcomes whether this is buildings or student achievement. There is so much to do. I am currently working on our marketing strategy to improve the profile of our school. We have so much to offer in so many ways. Being an excellent leader to my staff is also at the forefront of being a great principal.


Tell us about your choice of career as an educator. Were there enlightening moments or inspirational people to set you on your way?

From a very young age I wanted to make a difference; we as teachers have such a responsibility to every one of our students. I came to teaching as an adult student and have taught at our largest Intermediates in New Zealand specialising in IT, Science, Future Problem Solving and Gifted and Talented education. Having the opportunity to teach a diverse range and catering for student needs was a highlight for me. Every child who came to my classroom had their own story, quirky trait, talent and/or gift. I loved teaching children who did not realise their own potential. I have the utmost respect for anyone who is in education, it is such an important job.


Describe the pathway your career has followed.

I never thought I would be a principal in charge of my own school. I am very much enjoying it. I have enjoyed being in the classroom, being a role model and encouraging young people to reach their potential. Now I am doing this with teachers.


How would you describe your leadership style?

I would like to believe I am fair, honest and consistent. I like to nurture my own staff by helping them realise their own potential when it comes to leadership. I am a forward-thinking person, who can foresee potential possibilities. I am a thinker, always looking for ways to capitalise on situations.


What do you see as the benefits of working in an independent school?

Currently I am redesigning our curriculum and prospectus. It is very refreshing to be in control of what happens in your own school. I like how we are part of a large family of fellow independent schools. I have enjoyed finding out about our other independent schools and what they have to offer our young people.


What encouragement would you give to parents considering a private education for their children?

I would encourage parents to come and check us out. Come and see first hand what our independent schools have to offer. Choosing the right education for our young people is so crucial. Independent schools work with families and students. We also offer strong pastoral care and programmes that cater for students’ needs. Matahui provides a sound alternative education, an embedded philosophy that can enrich a child. I can imagine our other independent schools offer the same.