Annette Fairhall has 85 students and 16 chickens, and for The Pocket School’s new principal, ‘it’s like coming home again’.
Although Annette is on a steep learning curve, with so much to come to grips with in her very first position as principal, she couldn’t be happier.
For there were two things that the Murwillumbah born-and-bred local was always sure about – she knew she wanted to be a teacher, and she knew she wanted to stay in ‘this God-given area’.
The first certainty was relatively easy to achieve, with a stint at university in Lismore, but the second was trickier, for it is not easy to gain permanency in the desirable North Coast region.
So Annette made the choice to start out as a casual, something she did for very many years, although she was rarely out of work at the three schools that employed her.
Annette subsequently retrained as a librarian in a bid to gain permanency, but then one day she found herself an assistant principal – a position she filled for eight years, and then deputy principal for eight months at a school in Murwillumbah, and this position was to prove the turning point.
“I thought, I like this leadership role, looking at data, directing learning, pulling it all together,” she said.
“And then this position came up, and here I am.”
Although all of Annette’s teaching experience has been at small rural schools, there is something about The Pocket School that she finds particularly appealing.
“It has a unique quality,” she explained, “and is so attuned to the valley and its community, with so many of its features woven into its program.
“There is the gardening program, and the chooks that the children maintain every day.
Annette looks forward to meeting all the parents at the traditional ‘big breakfast’, particularly after her introduction to the school and its community.
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