Posted by David Gledhill on Jul 20, 2022
Karen Morgan has been Principal at Taita College for six years.  It opened 1957 and currently has 374 students and it's Moto is: "Pride through success, honour through service."
Previously Karen has had wide teaching experience, recently as Deputy Principal at Wellington Girls College and in an earlier life with the police in Santa Barbara U.S.A.  working with local gangs.  She believes strongly in helping every student to acheive their best, with a mission to help students to " develop the resilience and skills needed to become productive and upstanding citizens."
She has great faith in all her students but recognises that many of them have experienced poverty not just in money but also in life and community experience.  Some of her students live five in a room, some have never been to Wellington, some live in emergency housing in Upper Hutt but have no money for the bus fare to school.  Many live with solo mothers or grandparents, some move around different family groups.  Many live in houses with no books, many are often hungry.
Karen believes in working closely with the community, so that the school is both receiving help from it and repaying that help with service to the community.  At the annual prize giving she is able to distribute $150,000 worth of prizes and scholarships, thanks to local businesses.
The school's academic results are now better than the national average, and in addition it encourages its students to take appropriate courses and pathways.  As an example, the school owns a car which it uses both for transport and for developing practical knowledge in the workshop.  Some students shine at academic subjects but there are also many opportunities in practical work.  In one sense the future is promising, Karen is pleased to know that the school is going to receive new buildings in the next four years.
Members' questions elicited the following information:
  • There is full co-operation with tertiary institutions, in particular in the Gateway Programme by which selected students can spend some days at school and some with a Polytech or an employer.  
  • Truancy is a major problem, accentuated by Covid. The college is considering employing a truancy officer.
  • There are several (up to 40) "transient students", students who move between several different schools during a year.
At the end of her address Karen revealed that she felt so strongly about the need for support from local and national government that she was standing for the local council.