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Dual leadership role well supported

Regulus // Issue 2 // August 2023

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Head of Middle School, Matt Parr and Assistant Head of Middle School, Liz GormackEnthusiastic applause from students following the announcement of Matt Parr as the new Head of Middle School was representative of the highly positive response to his appointment.

Matt already has an excellent rapport with young people as the Director of Boarding, a responsibility he continues alongside his new position. “I have been keen to expand my influence in leadership at St Andrew’s for some time but wasn’t ready to give up boarding. When I applied, I made a proposal to create a dual role with the addition of two new Assistant Heads appointed in Boarding and the Middle School, to enable me to carry out these dual roles, which management supported. I’m both excited and privileged to have the opportunity.”

Matt has extensive experience in leadership, pastoral care, student management, and building culture, which he is excited to bring to his new role. Since he took over at the start of Term 2, Matt has been working closely with the new Assistant Head of Middle School, Liz Gormack, and Assistant Head of Boarding, Struan George, to define their new leadership structures, roles and responsibilities, and communicate those back to their teams. “The three of us are very much in tune, and a great team. The former Head of Middle School, Mikae Tuu’u, left the school in such a great place, which has allowed Liz and I to continue to build on existing relationships and highlight the positive culture.”

Both Liz, who continues as a Year 9 Dean, and Struan, who is also House Manager of MacGibbon House, are excited to have the opportunity to step up into their newly created positions, says Matt. “Now we have three people, instead of two with skills, knowledge, and experience, overseeing these important areas of the College, which I believe makes us even stronger.”

As a previous Dean to all year levels in the Middle School and Senior College, Liz has a great insight into the student experience. She has worked with Matt for several years; in fact she taught him at Christchurch Boys’ High School many years ago. “We work really well as a team, alongside the Deans, our superb guidance staff, and support network.”

Matt loves working with Year 9–11 students, who are at such a formative stage, he says. “St Andrew’s students want to do well and be their best. It is our job to help them get there. Our current focus is on the importance of showing gratitude, respect, and students taking pride in everything they do, which is a similar philosophy to the boarding houses.”

In his new environment in the Middle School, Matt says he is ‘doing a couple of laps around’ before he looks at more long-term strategic thinking. “My main priority in the first few months has been establishing a presence, building relationships, figuring out how everything runs, and consulting with staff, tutors, and students. I’m pretty strong on listening to feedback.”

In the future, he would like to develop the Strategic Plan for the Middle School, with particular attention on the strategy around student leadership and holistic development in the College.

There is no doubt that Matt’s dual roles keep him busy, but he says with a huge capacity for work, good structures and support in place, and an encouraging family, including wife Nancy, daughter Grace (Year 12) and son Tully (Year 9), he is excited to be able to continue to support and lead the boarding community, while broadening his sphere of influence to Middle School students and families.

Students applauded Matt Parr's dual role as Head of Middle School and Director of Boarding, highlighting his commitment to leadership.