Fairlie School welcomes Amanda O'Brien as new principal

Fairlie born Amanda OBrien is returning to her birthplace to be principal of the rural South Canterbury town's primary school.
It feels great living here (Fairlie),'' she said of her return.

O'Brien's father was a butcher and completed his apprenticeship at Coutts and Sons butcher in Fairlie. The family moved to Timaru when she was five and her father purchased his own shop, Peters Meat Market on the corner of Otipua Rd and Mowbray St.

OBrien loved the primary chools she attended - Waimataitai and Highfield and went onto Roncalli College.


I always wanted to be a teacher.

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Her family used to joke that she enjoyed school so much she would stay there as long as she possibly could.

I had lovely teachers who were engaging and who I built good relationships with.

Her first teaching job was in Te Anau.

I enjoyed being part of a small community.

Almost seven years later she moved to Timarus Washdyke School then Sacred Heart in Timaru for 14 years. Her previous role was deputy principal at St Joseph's School in Timaru for four years.

Though not sporty OBrien enjoys teaching PE the most while her passion is reading.

OBrien and her husband, Mike, met when they were in the same class at Roncalli College but did not start dating until they were in their 20s, as they had mutual friends.

"I like coming back to the slower pace,'' she said of Fairlie. "Mike says he feels like hes on holiday.

She said the school community had been very welcoming and she thought the schools values caring, confident, resilient and respectful were really important. They are: caring, confident, resilient and respectful.

Theyre the cornerstone of the school. The idea is to lock in the values so the students can go on to be productive members of the community.

OBrien is impressed with how the school has so much green space and each classroom has a garden. She is still getting used to water being allowed in the sandpits and the children not wearing shoes.

They take their shoes off and run around in bare feet all day.

With no set plans for the school it will be a case of getting to know the community and seeing what works well and what could be improved.

We will work together as a community for the kids.

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