As the incoming principal of Sacred Heart College, she is looking forward to “making a difference” in the life of the school and delivering a quality Catholic education to the girls of Hawke’s Bay.

“I’m really honoured to be appointed as the principal of Sacred Heart College and looking forward to being a part of the community of Sacred Heart College and in particular the Catholic community.”

“I’ve always had leadership as something I’ve wanted to do and to be principal is the ultimate leader educationally,” Mrs Neville-Foster said.

Originally from Ireland, she moved to New Zealand in 2006 and began teaching science and chemistry at Havelock North High School, before becoming assistant principal and later deputy principal in 2014.

She completed her bachelor’s degree in science education and a master of arts in education from the University of Limerick, Ireland and is passionate about education and young people.

Prior to Havelock North High School, she taught science and chemistry at Hazelwood College in Ireland for two years.

Having spent 11-and-a-half years at a state school, the devout Catholic was excited about being able to “marry” the Catholic faith in her personal life with her professional life.

“I was born and raised in Ireland as a Catholic, in a Catholic family, so it is an integral part of my upbringing, my culture and of who I am – it is a huge part of my life.”

She believed having a strong faith was pivotal for people, particularly the younger generation.

“I believe that it is really good for young people to understand that there’s something bigger than themselves and something that they can hold onto in the time of need.”

A high expectation on the achievement of the students and staff at the school would be a key focus going in.

Similarly, she believed her qualities, including energy, vitality, dynamic would aid her in her new role.

“I’m hoping to inspire them to go outside of their comfort zones and be the best they can be.”

Despite having never worked at an all girls’ school before, in her role as deputy principal in recent years at Havelock North High School (along with a male deputy principal), she dealt with girls more as they gravitated towards her.

Upon stepping into principalship, she is planning on taking it slowly, and getting to know the community and students to be able to make a difference in their lives.

She said her current principal, Greg Fenton, had been reminding her that having a “work-life balance” was important.

The newly-appointed principal was conscious of stepping into long-standing principal, Steve Bryan’s shoes.

“It’s going to be really hard to take over from Steve because he has done so much in the time that he has been at Sacred Heart College. He’s completely turned it around and I’m very lucky to be taking on a school that is so successful, very high achieving, and has a really strong pastoral care system.”

The pair were speaking to each other on a regular basis and Mr Bryan would be on the other side of the phone to help her out when she needed in her new role.

She has two sons; 6-year-old Tadgh and 4-year-old Lorcan, with her husband, Simon Foster.

“None of this would be possible without my husband. Simon is a stay at home dad and he looks after our boys’ and gives me 100 per cent support, so that I can give myself 110 per cent to whatever school that I work in.

“I’m really sad to leave Havelock North High School, but I know that I need to move on and spread my wings and I’m ready to take on the next phase of my career now and that’s going to be me committing to Sacred Heart College.”

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