There were hats of all shapes and sizes - like a dress-up cupboard. One was red and green velvet like the one the joker wears in a pack of cards. Another one was tartan and had a fluffy pom-pom on top. The principal said it was his Scottish hat. He put it on and spoke in a funny voice. I laughed.
I could hardly see his desk because it was all covered in toys. I picked up a stick that was all smooth, as if it had been washed up on the beach. It made a sound like rain and he said his daughter gave it to him. I liked the stick and he let me tip it up again to make the rain noise.
I looked up and saw there were all sorts of things hanging from the ceiling. One was a little man in an aeroplane on a spring. When I pulled it, it jiggled and the wings flapped up and down.
Then I saw it.
Sitting on the windowsill was a big, pink, squiggly, plastic brain. When I asked him about it he picked it up and gave it to me. It felt bumpy. The principal told me brains were that most interesting things in the whole wide world. He said at his school they talked about brains a lot.
He cleared a space at his desk and asked me to sit down. Then he told me he was going to give me a test, which I thought was pretty mean because I hadn't been at his school long enough to know anything in a test.
I was really nervous but he told me it didn't matter what the answers were. There were no right or wrong answers and all I had to do was tell the truth.
It was an easy test because all the questions were about me. It asked if I liked it quiet or noisy when I was working, and if I liked it dark or light. Did I like summer or winter best and did I like reading books sitting, lying down or standing up?
When I had finished he went through it with me. There were no ticks or crosses. He said the test was to help me enjoy school. Together we would do our best to make school just the way I liked it.
He put the test in his filling cabinet and told me I could look at it any time I needed to. In a couple of years I would do another one, just in case the answers had changed.
Then we went for a walk around the school."
- Learn, Think and Live. pp 10, 11 by Mike Scadden and Julia Holmes.
Mike Scadden was the principal of Te Puna Primary School and my first choice for my placement when I was training to be a teacher in 2000. His office was just as described. An inspirational principal.
Bonus extra just for my loyal followers*: A knitted brain. created by psychiatrist Karen Norberg.
* Or, even for my disloyal ones.