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Thank you Mr Johnson!

Soon to retire Principal Mike Johnson has been pivotal to Trust's Literacy and Numeracy funding programme
Soon to retire Principal Mike Johnson has been pivotal to Trust's Literacy and Numeracy funding programme

Being a pivotal part of a multi-million dollar literacy and numeracy programme is something Mike Johnson is about to say good-bye to.

The principal of Puketapu School in Bell Block, North Taranaki retires in April after 43 years of teaching.

For the past 14 years he’s been part of a three-strong principals sub-committee liaising between Taranaki primary and intermediate schools and the TSB Community Trust.

The job hasn’t been demanding – on the contrary Mike has relished the chance to learn about innovative literacy and numeracy programmes in local schools.

In 2004 the Trust began making grants to primary and intermediate schools to boost literacy achievements; in 2008 it extended the scheme to numeracy.

Ministry of Education operational funding only goes so far, and schools work hard to create remedial programmes. In general, however, there is little left over.

“I think we are pretty lucky. Over the past 14 years, when you add up the figures it’s certainly significant. We have to be pretty pleased about that in Taranaki.”

The total amount donated – including the 2016 figure – is over $7.8 million.

The funding is distributed on a per capita basis giving schools flexibly to use it where the need is greatest in their community.

In early December the Principals report on how the money has helped them deliver quality teaching and raise student achievement.

In January applications are made for the coming year – that’s where Mike comes in. He and the other principals’ representatives work through 152 literacy and numeracy applications.

If there are gaps in the paperwork, he contacts the school and works with them to ensure detail is correct. For new principals the collegial support is valuable.

“We are the envy of other provinces because they don’t have that source of funding. So anybody coming in, if they didn’t quite understand the process, I was the liaison person.”

Many schools use the funding to support underachievers; others pour it into extension programmes.

For the TSB Community Trust the scheme supports its long-term inter-generational focus on improving outcomes for children. Taranaki children of today will be the adults, and parents of tomorrow - literacy and numeracy skills are very important skills for a successful life.

At his own school the money funds RAP kits; what Mike calls ‘hook in kits’ to spark the interest of senior students, as well as a teaching assistant to administer the scheme. In addition, struggling junior students benefit from intervention programmes.

“The kits capture their interest. That’s the buy in, if we can capture their interest they will go and search for other things. The feedback has always been very positive.”

The TSB Community Trust would like to acknowledge and thank Mike Johnson for his hard work and dedication over the years. His efforts have helped to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes for thousands of our region's tamariki.