Retiring principal will miss ‘brotherhood’

Sacred Heart College Portraits, Thursday 13th September 2018. Photo: BC Photography / Ben Campbell

When principal Jim Dale thinks of the brotherhood he’s leaving behind at Sacred Heart College it pulls at his heart strings. 

For 12 years he’s watched the school grow in its student numbers and in its building developments.

But it’s the lifelong bonds he’s seen develop between students and also the staff he will miss the most.

“I always tell the boys buildings will come and go, but it’s the people that matter in life,” he said.

Mr Dale has advised the school’s board he will be retiring from his role at the end of the year. Recruiting started in mid-October for a new principal — to start preferably in term one, 2019.

“My best work here is done and it’s time to hand it in,” Mr Dale said.

He started his teaching journey in 1975 at John Bosco Secondary School in Glasgow, Scotland. Mr Dale said this school was in a “very tough” area of Glasgow — the Gorbals.

He moved to New Zealand with his wife, Ann Dale, who is deputy principal at Marist College in Mt Albert, in 1979, two days after the Erebus disaster. Together they have four sons.

His original reason for the move was to play football for Manawatu United. He also played for Wellington Diamond United here.

Mr Dale’s first job in New Zealand was at Palmerston North Boys’ High School. The principal at the time was Catholic and Mr Dale said he was guided greatly by him in the early days.
He has since worked at several secondary schools, including Rosehill College, Dilworth School and Kelston Boys’ High School (where he was deputy principal to Sir Graham Henry).

He was also rector of Timaru Boys’ High School (1994-95) and headmaster of Westlake Boys’ High School (1996-2006). Mr Dale’s journey rounded off with a return to his
Catholic roots at Sacred Heart.

“It was a marvellous privilege to use my faith and love of education, particularly boys’ education, in this role. There are brilliant things happening in Catholic schools all the time,” he said.

When Mr Dale first started at Sacred Heart, he felt the school had “fleeting inconsistent successes” and he wanted to build the students’ confidence.

“I always say to them,5 don’t be humble or inferior. Stand tall and be the best individual you can be.”

There is a waiting list for Sacred Heart College. The school has a roll capacity for 1220 students. There are 120 students in its boarding school.

“Catholic education is very popular. It’s our values, standards and high expectations. We give students aspirations and encourage them to pursue everything,” Mr Dale said. “There’s some sort of magic that you just don’t see in other schools.”

Mr Dale said the challenge nowadays is finding quality teachers, something a school relies upon for its successes.

“Students only get one crack at this and giving them the best quality teachers is our goal as principals.”

Mr Dale is proud that the majority of his students are active in their faith. He sees that Mass at Thursday lunchtimes is always full.

“I tell the students you need to walk the talk if you are following this faith.”

Mr Dale has been a member of several key education associations and boards, including the Association of Boys’ Schools of New Zealand, the Auckland Catholic Secondary Schools Principals’ Association, the Auckland Secondary Schools Principals’ Association, and the Secondary Schools Principals’ Association of New Zealand.

He has also been a recipient of the Woolf Fisher Scholarship.

Mr Dale plans to use his retirement to be the first in his family to achieve a single digit handicap in golf. He would also like to volunteer for hospice work and spend time with his grandchildren, some living overseas.

“I would like to thank the staff, students and Marist Brothers [with whom] I have been privileged to share this journey.”

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