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Experienced . . . St Kevin's College guidance counsellor and year 9 and 10 health teacher Russell Dixon. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

North Otago is home to many experienced teachers, some of whom have taught several generations of local families. In an ever-changing profession where challenges can come from pesky pupils or piles of paperwork, these teachers have stuck it out to share their love of learning with the next generation. Oamaru Mail reporter Daniel Birchfield asks some experienced local teachers a few questions about their careers:

THE QUESTIONS:
1. How long have you taught at the school?
2.What are the major changes in the school and education in general you’ve experienced?
3. What do you enjoy most about the job?

RUSSELL DIXON
St Kevin’s College

1. Since May 1988, so about 30 years. I’m a guidance counsellor and teach health with year 9 and 10 pupils.

2. For St Kevin’s, I suppose the change from the Christian brotherhood being in charge to lay teaching. They’re still our proprietors, but have little to do with the school now. I suppose the other big thing would be the introduction of NCEA and the evolution of NCEA to the system it is now.

3. Just the satisfaction of helping students. It’s a privilege, really. It’s quite an honour to be able to do this job. And there’s the challenge of it. There are times when it can be quite scary still.

PAUL SELBIE
Waitaki Girls’ High School

Long career . . . Waitaki Girls’ High School physical education teacher Paul Selbie. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

1. This is my 28th year.

2. It’s a really nice school to teach at and always has been. We’ve had changes in principal, obviously, but not too much else. Obviously, there’s been big changes in physical education. Up until 1987, there was no theory. I finished physical education school in 1975 and went to teachers’ college in 1976. We used to teach basic games and skills .. now we all have to teach the biophysical principles. I think the workload has increased significantly, particularly with NCEA. All work has got to be moderated, so when you work in a department of two, you’re moderating quite a lot.

3. It’s the students, and every day is different.

JENNY KITCHIN
Weston School

Stalwart . . . Weston School year 1 and 2 teacher Jenny Kitchin. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

1. Since 1984. I had time off when I had my family, so I was looking after them for a few years, but they called me back.

2. Probably, in education in general, it would be digital technology. That’s had a huge impact on the way teachers teach and communicate with each other. I have a smart TV in my room now .. say, if you’re looking for a photograph of a skink, I can bring it up on the smart TV. It’s huge, actually. The other thing generally is having a lot more needy children. When I started teaching, it was a very equal society – now a lot more need guidance. You have to spent a lot of time teaching social skills .. how to relate to each other.

3. It’s been a very stable school. It’s been interesting to see the school amalgamate – Ngapara School and Enfield School joined us. When I first came here, I was the only female teacher .. that always used to be a bit of a joke between me and the secretary.

GARY PATERSON
Weston School

Pupils first . . . Weston School year 5 and 6 teacher Gary Paterson. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

1. Since the early 1980s. I came here for two years then went overseas and then picked up the job again. I went back overseas eight years later then picked up the job again.

2. At the school, it would be the new buildings, the renovated buildings and the use of devices of various sorts. In teaching in general, it would be the use of devices again. I think also the different approaches we’ve been expected to take over the years. At times there were particularly structured curriculum you were supposed to teach to, but in the 2000s the New Zealand curriculum was introduced. I think it’s been great. It’s allowed more flexibility and creativity in teaching .. you can use your initiative more.

3. The kids, really. I like teaching holistically – getting to know the kids. I like the Weston kids. There’s a good mixture of kids from the farm and the village and I just like seeing their personalities and character develop over the years. It’s really nice to watch.