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Five Questions with . . . Bluestone School principal Ian Poulter, one of South Canterbury's longest serving principals. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON

Pupils’ thirst for learning is a motivator for principal Ian Poulter.

Mr Poulter, of Bluestone School, is one of South Canterbury’s longest-serving principals.

Q. Can you tell me how your teaching career started?

I started in 1978.

I started teaching in Tinwald, Ashburton and then I went to Mataura, so all my teaching career has been in the South Island. I came back to Timaru 20 years ago.

Q. How did your teaching career progress into the role of principal?

I’ve been a principal for 27 years. My first principalship was a sole-charge role at Waihaorunga, so it was just myself and 18 students from age 5 to 13.

Since then I’ve been principal in Ashburton and Timaru.

Q. What is one of the highlights throughout your career?

A highlight around my teaching career is teaching the children and then their children.

Many of the kids say you taught my mum, or you were my father’s principal or my mother’s principal.

A definite highlight for me was [also] being involved in the establishment of Bluestone School. It was a merger that was challenging, but exciting.

Timaru Main and Timaru West schools were joined together in 2005 [to form Bluestone School]. We had terrific support from Timaru Main’s principal John Barton – he really wanted Bluestone School to be a great school. Everyone was wanting the best for the kids.

There are other highlights [including] the growth of technology as a tool for learning.

I can well remember the first computers we had in schools – the Sinclair ZX81.

You fed the information by tape.

We’ve come such a long way.

Computers are not the be-all and end-all, but they are certainly a wonderful tool in opening up learning in so many ways, [including] video conferencing.

The speed in which change has occurred in communication [has meant] the world has become a very small place, very quickly and I think our children are very lucky to have that power, and if it’s used for learning – how exciting is that?

Q. What keeps you coming through the school gates year after year?

I guess the excitement and passion that many children have for learning. One of the things I love is the naive, raw enthusiasm of 5-year-olds.

They love learning, there’s a sparkle in their eyes and they want to share with you all the exciting things that are happening in their world.

Q. What are you looking forward to this year?

There’s a lot of things to look forward to this year.

I think the fact the national standards have been removed allows us to refocus the education we deliver.

While reading, writing and maths are important, it’s a chance for us to re-energise ourselves and emphasise the creativity in learning.

I’m excited as we get to rethink again and give more attention to creativity and holistic [learning].

It will give teachers a chance to teach to their passions.