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Halfmoon Bay School - Kath Johnson

2017 | Science at the Centre: Connecting with conservation on Rakiura

School: Halfmoon Bay School

Host: Department of Conservation, Steward Island

Region: Stewart Island

At Halfmoon Bay School we already utilise our local environment in number of ways, however we see the Science Teaching Leadership Programme as an opportunity to develop a more cohesive science programme based around our unique Stewart Island Environment. These changes will see science sitting at the heart of our Halfmoon Bay School Curriculum with all other subject areas coming out from our 'Science at the Centre’ philosophy.

Kath has been a primary school teacher for 25 years. She has spent the past 10 years as teaching principal of Halfmoon Bay School on Stewart Island. Kath is passionate about Stewart Island and thrives on creating a wide range of opportunities for the students at Halfmoon Bay School to learn more about their awesome environment. 

Kath’s placement saw her working alongside Department of Conservation staff on Stewart Island/ Rakiura. Her placement was mainly based around biodiversity work and saw her having a variety of incredible opportunities to have hands on experiences in a number of fantastic locations including Te Wharawhara/ Ulva Island, Whenua Hou/ Codfish Island, Tin Range and other areas around Rakiura National Park.  Her experiences also included visiting a number of other conservation areas within the wider southern region including the Catlins Coast, Central Otago and Burwood Takahē Centre, near Te Anau. As the placement progressed and Kath learnt more about the science capabilities, through her professional development workshops and readings, she was able to make meaningful connections between the work she was doing with DOC and how this directly relates to the curriculum.  One of Kath’s ‘aha’ moments was the realisation of the huge range of different science-based careers that are available in rural NZ.  This will have direct implications for increased careers education opportunities at Halfmoon Bay School.

A huge highlight for Kath was the opportunity to work alongside the DOC Kākāpō Team on Whenua Hou/ Codfish Island.  Kath was involved with transponder changes, kākāpō health checks, sample collecting and kākāpō tracking.  Whenua Hou is a highly protected, predator-free nature reserve accessible to very few people.  It was a huge honour to be able to spend a week working with the kākāpō team and having such hands on involvement with the birds care.

 The Science Teacher Leadership Programme has provided Kath with an incredible professional learning journey.  She is looking forward to returning to school where she aims to further develop the school‘s environmental based science programme by incorporating her new learning and experiences. Kath would like to thank The Royal Society/ Te Apārangi, Community Ranger, Jennifer Ross and the rest of the crew at DOC Rakiura, and all the other hosts who helped her on her quest for new knowledge.