Dixie McDonald is no stranger to Nayland College. However, she has taken on a new role in Nayland as Head of House for Pegasus.
Mrs McDonald has a philosophy in schooling that epitomizes Nayland’s value of ‘for the students, by the students’. “I see my role as a facilitator, makes it sound like I want to kick back with a coffee and a muffin and do nothing,” she said. “But it’s about the students and who are we to think we know what the students find enjoyable”.
The Nayland house system was introduced 5 years ago and separates form classes into 4 different houses: Pegasus, Draco, Aquila and Phoenix. The house system allows for a friendly competitiveness between houses and a sense of unity within a house and between years.
Mrs McDonald’s approach to teaching and guiding Pegasus is very much about helping the students learn. “I’m there to explain things; to put them on the right path, to question things, to challenge them, rather than the person who hands out the content or the notes,” she explained. She believes that students should be pursuing their own learning and that collaborative learning should be celebrated. Her preferred teaching style revolves around debates and class discussions.
Mrs McDonald’s pastimes outside of school tend to be outdoors such as tramping, gardening, kayaking and mountain biking. “The bush is a place that I feel calm and centered,” she said. The bush and nature of Nelson is important to her and she feels that New Zealand’s environment should be a more common focus in education and the public.
Mrs McDonald’s love and passion for education and students has remained apparent throughout her years in Nayland. She delivers support and guidance, communicated within lessons ‘disguised to be about English’. “I’m just a crusty old teacher who still enjoys teaching.” she said. It remains to be proven as to whether Mrs McDonald has enough house spirit to lead Pegasus to victory.
By student reporter Freya Jordan