This morning in assembly, Auckland Grammar School farewells a long serving and senior member of staff, Associate Headmaster - Junior School Mr Ben Skeen, who next term begins a new challenge as Headmaster of St Paul's Collegiate School.
Mr Skeen's contributions to Auckland Grammar School have been diverse and extensive over the past 15 years. His contributions have had a direct influence on the School's strategic direction, academically and holistically.
Mr Skeen has helped set and maintain the highest of standards for students and staff he has done so understanding of the traditions that are important to our School. This understanding was reflected in his considerable support of the School's 150th year in 2019, where he oversaw numerous aspects of the celebrations that took place over 10 days.
In each of the roles Mr Skeen has performed as a representative of Auckland Grammar School he has accepted the self-imposed challenge of helping make our School 'better than before'. That has including having a growth mindset in his personal and professional approach as well as challenging each of you to to do the same - to better yourself and understand who you are.
Mr Skeen started at Auckland Grammar School as a teacher of History in 2007, who was a story teller at heart, encouraging those he taught to have a love of the subject. Since starting as a history teacher, Mr Skeen's contributions to the School have been diverse. They have included:
- A role of Assistant Housemaster from 2008 to 2012, a role he performed alongside his teaching duties and strong involvement particularly in the sport of rugby.
- Master in Charge of Leadership programmes from 2009. The area of student leadership is something Mr Skeen has been passionate about and he held this role until he was appointed Associate Headmaster in 2015. As Master in Charge of Leadership he designed and led the India Immersion Programme on 4 occasions where students were given the opportunity to experience another culture and connect and work with communities at the margins of society.
He introduced the Form 6 Leadership programme at Venturelodge, the Form 4 leadership programmes, Prefect mentoring and Student Leadership Seminars. These are all programmes that have continued to evolve at Grammar. Mr Skeen was also the Form 3 and 4 Associate Dean from 2010 - 2012 before being appointed the Form 5 Dean in 2014, a role he held for two years.
In an extracurricular sense Mr Skeen was a distance running squad coach from 2007 - 2012 and Master in Charge of Rugby for 5 years.
He was a 1st XV Rugby Assistant Coach, for eight years concluding only after the School's 150th match here at home on the No. 1 field in 2019.
During this time the 1st XV made the 1A semi-final 6 times and between 2012-2015, the 1st XV made the final four years in a row, winning the 1A championship in 2014. The 1st XV also won the coveted Moascar Cup twice during his tenure. Of note is that the team beat King's College seven out of the 10 games he was involved with, including five in a row which is very rare indeed.
Away from School life, globally Mr Skeen has been better known by rugby fans as a television match official a role that saw him officiate in 68 internationals, 3 World Cups and a Lions Tour. The experiences he has had internationally have informed his practice as a teacher and senior staff member.
Mr Skeen was appointed as Associate Headmaster in 2015, a role that has seen him influence the daily operations of the School with you and staff, including emergency protocols and crisis management, School communications, School Events, the Boarding House, the oversight of School timetable and the oversight of Student Services.
Mr Skeen has also had direct input into developing the School's focus on character education including programmes that addresses the harmful effects of pornography, the use social media, cultural diversity, religion, gender diversity, vaping and a variety of social issues. And, to the School he is the guy who reads out daily notices in assembly in his trademark dulcet tones.
Mr Skeen is a proud Grammar man, who has lived the Grammar Way over the last 15 years earning credibility and respect amongst his colleagues, the parent community and you, the student body.
He will be a highly effective Headmaster who we thank for his 15 years of service to and influence of Auckland Grammar School. We wish him and his family every success in this exciting new chapter in their lives.