School farewells teaching couple

Saturday September 19, 2015 Written by Published in Education
Apii Te Uki Ou principal Simon Drewery and teacher Denise Drewery are leaving the island school with dog max (pictured) and their two children after two and a half years on the island. Apii Te Uki Ou principal Simon Drewery and teacher Denise Drewery are leaving the island school with dog max (pictured) and their two children after two and a half years on the island.

Apii Te Uki Ou primary school students waved “ka kite” to principal Simon Drewery yesterday.

Along with his wife Denise, Simon has served the island school for the past two and a half years. 

Drewery, who is leaving with Denise and their two children to become the principal of Waiuku Primary School in New Zealand, said his departure was “bittersweet.”

“We’ve loved being part of the school and community. It’s sad because it’s Raro – it’s somewhere you just keep coming back to.”

Drewery said he and Denise, who has also taught at the school, said there had been plenty of highlights during their time on the island.

“The highlights have been the Apii Te Uki Ou kids...they’re neat, lovely, caring kids.”

Winning three out of five disciplines at the Highland Paradise Culture competition this year was a major boost, especially for the school often coined as mostly “papa’a,” said Drewery. 

He also said taking the seniors on a trip to Mitiaro in 2013 was amazing, as will be their trip to Atiu later this year. 

But in his parting words Drewery said there had certainly been some challenges to teaching in the Cook Islands, with staffing being number one.

Although the school was always looking for quality local teachers, he believed the immigration laws needed to be reassessed to make it easier for people from overseas to be employed.

“New Zealanders are treated as foreign residents – there needs to be some equity there.”

Boosting IT and e-learning in classrooms had also been challenging, with limited and expensive internet. It was time the government and Bluesky came up with a plan to work together to subsidise internet for schools in the Cook Islands, said Drewery.

He will miss a lot of things about Rarotonga, but it is fair to say Drewery will not miss those blisteringly hot summer days.

“Being a Kiwi and working in the heat... that’s been a special challenge.”

Brendon Fiebig will take over as principal at the school next year. 

Fiebig worked and lived in Rarotonga in 2011 for two years as the Cook Islands Ministry of Education’s learning advisor.

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