Join us as we discuss Mr. Percival’s journey from aspiring pilot to House Leader, as well as what he would like to see if he were a student at Macleans.

Why did you choose to teach?

I got to a stage in life where I needed to choose a profession, and I just decided I should probably be a geography teacher. I always enjoyed geography and history at school, so, naturally, I’ve always been attracted to those areas in life. I just wanted to find something where I could combine my passion for these topics with a profession, and teaching seemed to be the ideal position for me.

Did you consider any other professions?

I did. When I was 18—even before 18—I really wanted to be a fighter pilot in the war air force. But that required a huge amount of dedication and many years of training. So when I finished my degree, I decided to do a teaching qualification in geography, and here we are.

How would you describe your journey from starting at the school to becoming a house leader?

It’s been a very interesting journey for me: I didn’t expect to stay in New Zealand for 5 years. This is my fifth year at Macleans. I started way back in 2016 in Rutherford, as Head of Geography; my first impression of the school was, “Wow, what a place!” The students are so easy to teach, and they want to learn. So for me, I just wanted to continue working here for a bit longer, to enjoy that experience in the classroom where it’s easy to teach, but also to embrace the Macleans culture which is really special一and that sustained my time at the school. I was Head of Geography up until last year, before becoming House Leader. Being Head of Geography was great, because as well as designing resources in that subject area, it was also awesome getting to teach the subject; Macleans students that choose Geography tend to want to learn Geography. On the other hand, the House Leader position is great as you are immersed in the culture. It’s a great way to connect and build relationships with kids. All in all, such a fascinating journey.

What do you think is the most valuable skill or quality to have as a house leader?

As a house leader, you need to be patient. They need to be patient and calm. What I mean by that is that you can’t rush any decision, you can’t make knee-jerk decisions; you need to listen to everyone’s story, and to the students. Have that calmness, have that patience to create the time to make the right decisions. About whether I fit that myself? I generally am quite a calm person. I think one of the things I’ve enjoyed about education – being a teacher not just at Macleans – is having that ability to build relationships with students, and I think having that characteristic of being calm makes it a lot easier, because the students feel more at ease, and they feel more comfortable with you.

If you had the chance to change just one thing about the school, what would it be?

I would actually like to have a separate area for the Year 13s. I know this might go against the whanau system slightly, which is all about everybody being together, but I believe the Year 13s are entitled – they’ve done 4 years at the school, the majority of them have worked hard – and when you get to that level, I think you should be able to have your own space and just relax. Really feel that seniority, you know? 

If you were a student at Macleans in 2020, what clubs or co-curriculars would you join?

I’m into sports, so I’d definitely be playing football, rugby, cricket. Sports side for sure. Music-wise? I can’t sing and I can’t play an instrument. I’m the manager of MCC, but I think I’m much better off being just the manager.

Interview conducted by Andrew Zeng and Louis Lee. Transcript published on 13/09/2020, with minor edits for  clarity and concision. Original header image by The Collegian.

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