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New Principal Appointments

A number of our schools have newly appointed principals, Inform has published a principal profile in its report on Catholic education in the Christchurch Diocese.

Collette Sandilands
Our Lady of Victories School,

OLV is in great heart and I’m delighted
to be the new principal there. I moved
to Christchurch in 2020 to be nearer
to my two sons. Family has always
been hugely important to me. I grew
up in a large Catholic family with
three brothers and three sisters. My
parents instilled in us the importance
of service, kindness, love, and respect.
Catholic schools also had a very
positive impact on my faith. I have
been fortunate to be the principal
of three Catholic schools, each one
special and unique, and each has
helped me grow as a leader and
deepen my faith. I wish to continue to
build on and grow our school vision of
nurturing faith, growing community,
and achieving excellence.

Ian Johnson
St Patrick’s School, Greymouth
Becoming the principal of St Patrick’s
School at the beginning of the year
is the most exciting and significant
vocational calling I have experienced.
I have worked in a variety of
mainstream and special education
settings, including eight years as the
RTLB cluster manager for the West
Coast. In my spiritual life, Fr John
Adams helped me listen to the many
calls to faith I had experienced over
the years and during my travels. Fr Dan
Doyle welcomed us into the faith in 2020. Full communion in the Catholic
Church has changed my life for the
better. I aspire to not only continue the
excellent work of the school, but hold
fast to and encourage the values of
Jesus Christ and the Catholic tradition
within our local community. I know the
Lord will guide our school’s journey as
we move on into 2022.

Nathan Burford
Our Lady Star of the Sea School,

In becoming principal of Our Lady
Star of the Sea School, I am motivated
by my own Catholic values and a
hope that I can make a real difference
in supporting this community. This
appointment is my first experience
within a Catholic school. I was a
walking deputy principal at Paparoa
Street School, was deputy principal at
Rakaia School, and taught at Medbury
and St Andrew’s Preparatory Schools,
with a stint overseas. My vision for
the school is to bring more children
into Catholic education and create a
community based around our charism
of serenity, tika, aroha, and respect.

Rose Firth-Scott
St James’ School, Aranui
Growing up in South Canterbury I was
strongly influenced by my parents
on my faith journey. I attended St
Patrick’s School, Waimate, then
Roncalli College, and we were very
active in the Catholic community. My
strong sense of catholic values and
social justice was enhanced by the
role models in my extended family
as well. I travelled, and taught in
Tauranga, before joining the staff at St
James’ School, and became principal
in term 3. My vision for the school
and community is that our students
become well rounded citizens, who
have the academic skills and Catholic
values in their kete for life.

Jo Jones
St Bernadette’s School, Hornby
I am the new principal of St Bernadette’s
in Hornby, am new to principalship,
and new to Canterbury. I came from
St Brendan’s School in Upper Hutt
where I had leadership roles over
the last 13 years. I believe Catholic
schools are blessed with the task of
helping students know Jesus. My faith
is centred in a simple decision each
day to be kind and compassionate to
others, and to live each day with dignity
and grace, a challenge at times, for
all of us in this role. I look forward to
further strengthening our school’s
relationships with our community and
surrounding parish schools.

Lee Nanai
Catholic Cathedral College
I am deeply honoured to be
appointed principal of Catholic
Cathedral College-Te Kura o te Waka
Whakapono. It is a privilege to serve
such a vibrant, diverse, and faithbased community. Seeing my parents
experience happiness in going beyond
their own needs and desires to serve
others has profoundly influenced my
life. I had served as deputy principal
of Catholic Cathedral College for
eight years. This followed being the
Head of the Mathematics Faculty at
Villa Maria College. This year will be
my 19th year in Catholic education.
It is a wonderful blessing to be able
to start every workday in prayer with
my colleagues, to be able to openly
talk about my love of God and hope
for all our rangatahi. My hope is that
every rangatahi at Catholic Cathedral
College has an opportunity to
encounter Christ and know Christ as
their personal saviour. Furthermore,
when they graduate, they will be
able to step out confidently with
an education that has developed
their faith in God, their intellect, and
themselves as people, to have happy
and fulfilled lives, contributing to
society in a positive way.

Renee Hutchinson
John Paul II High School,

The West Coast is a stunning place to
live and work, and it is a privilege to be
leading our staff, students, and school
community into the future. I can’t
imagine that the five year old pictured
on her first day of school, would be
about to embark on a principalship
30 something years later! After three
personally and professionally fulfilling
years teaching RE and English at
Aquinas College in Tauranga, I moved
to Indonesia to work in an international
school. I returned to Aquinas for
another four years. I ventured briefly
into the state sector, before being
appointed Head of Faculty English
& Languages at St John’s College,
Hamilton. I joined the Ministry of
Education in Nelson in an advisory
role before being appointed deputy
principal of JPII this year. I now begin
as principal in January 2022. I look
forward to the next part of my journey
in Catholic education.

Sarah Lowe
St Peter’s School, Beckenham
I grew up in Blenheim and my primary
years were proudly spent at St Mary’s
School. As a musician, my faith has
always been expressed most naturally
through song. Mr Wilkes was our
primary school Choir Director and I’ll
never forget his nine fingers playing
the piano, leading us so beautifully.
As a Godley Scholar at University, I
continued to sing in Cathedrals and
Churches. In 2004 I moved to Oxford,
England, where I taught Philosophy
of Religion at Headington School and
Radley College for nearly a decade.
My vision for St Peter’s School, and
our wider whānau, is that our Catholic
Compass drives us and we care
for and nurture the learning and
spirituality of every child.