“One of the things that interested me about Ida, that I will always remember, is that she talked to us about the benefits of reading…and she said, you can read while you are ironing…and that stuck in my mind that you could have a family and a career, which for her was a very successful career…”
Julie Saikkonen makes this comment in the early moments of our interview, speaking about the inspirational Ida Gaskin, her 7th form English teacher at New Plymouth Girls’ High School. In a sense, Julie’s tribute to Ida, speaks to the capacity for visionary educators to impact and influence the generations that follow. As Lead Principal of Pupuke Kāhui Ako and Associate Principal of Westlake Girls’ High School, Julie is herself a similarly visionary educator.
Over the course of the interview, Julie speaks on numerous topics, including; her time growing up in Taranaki and attending NPGHS as a boarder, her early years in education teaching mathematics which lead to her heading her own department and being at the forefront of the introduction of the NCEA mathematics curriculum, before returning to study and completing a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership at Auckland University.
As one listens to Julie’s insights on teaching, learning and leadership, we gain a sense of her intelligence, empathy and passion. Julie’s subtle reflections on the potential for the Kāhui Ako model, but also its implicit complexities, provide an appreciation for the expertise she brings and underlines how fortunate the Pupuke community is to have Julie steering the progress and growth of our people.