Face of the day

Jack Ralston (Supplied)

Jack Ralston PHOTO-Newshub

Charter school, Middle School West Auckland has opened a new wing named Jack Ralston House.

PHOTO-Middle School West Auckland facebook page

PHOTO-Middle School west Auckland facebook page

Why Jack Ralston House? (written June 2016)

Kids need heroes. Jack Ralston was a hero creator, hero supporter and someone who created the situations, attitudes and opportunities for people (young and not so young) to thrive.

Bill (front) and brother Jack (back, right) in rugby team photo

Bill (front) and brother Jack (back, right) in rugby team photo PHOTO-listener.co.nz

Jack was a very good athlete himself. An 8:17 3000m is a very good time on the running track. But the great Arthur Lydiard told Jack he was more suited to coaching. So coach he did – over 300 athletes – from weekend warriors to world champions and Olympians.

Jack was someone who aspired and inspired. He was a gentleman who knew when to fight for the rights of others and for better pathways. He was honest and gnarly. He had the uncanny knack of knowing when to yell for you and when to yell at you.

Jack was a story teller. According to Jack he trained with Haile Gebrselassie one morning, helped Henry Rono lose weight and become competitive again, shot hoops with Michael Jordan and Charles Barclay, convinced Nelson Mandela to support the Springboks, helped the Brazilian football team to get on together, helped Carl Lewis recover from a tough 400m. The thing is that these occasions and many more were accurate because Jack was open and available to anyone without fear or favour. One thing about Jack was that if you thought you deserved reverence and special treatment “just because” then it was unlikely to come your way.

Jack had time for people and all great educators need that. He loved his family and always talked so highly of them.

It was a privilege to know him and it is a privilege to have named our site: Middle School West Auckland at Jack Ralston House. We will honour the name and it will be an inspiration to our students, families and staff.

-“From the VET”

 Janet Wilson and Bill Ralston. Photo of Jack Ralston in the background.

Janet Wilson and Bill Ralston. Photo of Jack Ralston in the background. PHOTO-Middle School West Auckland Facebook page

An Auckland charter school is to name its new Henderson campus after late Kiwi sports coaching legend Jack Ralston, just over a year after it was founded.

Middle School West Auckland, part of the Villa Education Trust, will be opening Jack Ralston House to 180 students in time for term three, providing them with classrooms, science facilities, a design and technology suite and whanau area.

Mr Ralston died in 2012 after battling with leukaemia. He worked with high-profile athletes such as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and New Zealand’s own Hamish Carter leading up to the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

He also spent time with Nelson Mandela in South Africa before the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and with the Brazil national football team.

Villa Education Trust academic manager Alwyn Poole has worked at Mt Hobson Middle School, another school run by the trust, for the past 14 years.

He says Mr Ralston is not only a remarkable New Zealander, but one that coached his own triathlete son.

“We had heard of Jack Ralston but when we looked him up we saw there was a Jack Ralston that worked for Nike International, one who’d worked for GymSports New Zealand, one who’d worked for the New Zealand Rugby Union…and so we thought ‘well which one was it?’ Turned out to be the one Jack Ralston doing all these remarkable things.”

He says Mr Ralston would go to their Mt Hobson school and lead running with the students.

“He coached [my son] Michael, and we’ve known Jack for a long, long time. In 64 years, Jack almost lived three or four lives.”

Marg Ralston, wife of Mr Ralston, talked it over with her family and was pleased for the building to be named after her late husband.

“I thought about what are Jack’s values…he was very involved in helping young people reach their potential.

“He would help them to set goals and achieve at whatever level they could.”
Middle School West Auckland has been open since February 2015, and Mr Poole says the school roll is increasing.

…”We had some challenges in our first year. One of our staff members died in a motor accident, we had some press that wasn’t favourable, so all sorts of things alongside the great good that was being done,” says Mr Poole.

He says the school was accused of bribing children, in response to the school’s practise of providing the students with uniform and stationery, and not asking parents for donations.

“At both of our schools we are setting up a saving scheme so parents will be able to contribute $12-17 a week, because that’s effectively the money they’re saving by coming to our schools, and then it will be a parent-managed investment fund.

“Which means for families that have been with us for four years, they can save up to $3500 that helps their children with their next stage of education.”

But he’s hoping Jack Ralston House will be the final piece of the puzzle to make the school a “long-term success”, and will boost student numbers even more.

“We also think acknowledging Jack and his contribution is building a tradition and a heritage, and each generation should know the things the previous generation have done to put their opportunities in place.


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