Three wise men

With a combined 73 years of teaching at Gisborne Girls’ High School between them, three wise heads have decided it is time to hang up their mortar boards.

With a combined 73 years of teaching at Gisborne Girls’ High School between them, three wise heads have decided it is time to hang up their mortar boards.

THREE WISE MEN: With several decades of teaching between them, Gisborne Girls' High School teachers Dave Beard (left), Graham Lawson and Gary File have retired. The three teachers say they will miss the students' energy and friendliness. Picture by Liam Clayton
‘SURREAL’ experience: Retired drama teacher Gary File meets his hero, Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons, after a show in Bristol. Picture from Facebook

Gary File

This year marks the 400th anniversary of playwright William Shakespeare’s death, so is a fitting time to retire, says Gisborne Girls’ High School drama teacher Gary File.

Gary has been virtually synonymous with the school’s drama department, where he has taught “hundreds of actresses” for 18 years.

Retiring at the same time from long careers in teaching at Girls’ High are Graham Lawson and Dave Beard.

“There’s an awareness among us three there is a time to move on,” says Gary.

“The time is right. You need young blood in the profession. You have to acknowledge there are young ones out there with new ideas.”

The three teachers also agree it will not be easy to leave the school and the students’ energy.

“You never get bored in a school,” says Gary.

“It will be difficult to walk out on the last day. I have some wonderful memories of seeing kids starting off with no confidence to becoming their own stars.”

His only regret is that education has become assessment-obsessed, he says. Teachers seem to be deprived of the time needed to cover ideas and learn deeply because they are always rushing to the next test.

“I bemoan what I imagine is the passing of Shakespeare from the curriculum. For someone who has so much to teach, it is a shame we are losing touch with him.”

Gary looks forward to some travel and more time to sail. He is the last one in his crew to retire, he says.

“They have been waiting.”

Graham Lawson

After 42 years of teaching at Girls’ High, classical studies and history teacher Graham Lawson says his future contribution to the school will be to continue managing athletics, cross-country, triathlons and cycling.

He will liaise with the school’s sports co-ordinator to continue with the voluntary work he did while teaching.

“What I find with sport and community involvement is you make life-long friends,” he says.

Although he is not completely cutting his ties with the school, the reality of leaving his teaching career there has not hit him yet.

“I think I will feel it when I hand in my laptop and keys. I made a conscious decision not to be in Gisborne when school starts next year.”

He plans to celebrate his retirement with some fellow retirees in Christchurch.

Teaching is more stressful than people realise, he says. Teachers can get anxious about whether they are doing a good job.

“You do not want to become a grumpy old man. Teaching should be fun. You should be able to have a laugh. Students like someone with a sense of humour. They like it if you are interested in what they are doing.”

He enjoyed the collegiality he found at Girls’ High, he says.

“People go out of their way to help each other. If you are going to succeed at teaching you need to share ideas.”

Superficiality is an issue with the NCEA style of assessment, Graham says.

“Rather than focus on the getting of credits, why not focus on the development of understanding?”

New Zealand’s growing shortage of teachers also concerns him.

“The teaching profession is less attractive than it used to be. Teaching needs well-qualified, high-calibre people with a dedicated approach.”

Dave Beard

On the brink of retirement after a 42-year career in teaching, science teacher Dave Beard likens teaching to a marathon he ran in 1999.

“The 42 kilometres represented 42 years.”

Despite many hiccups along the way he enjoyed his time teaching at schools that included Lytton High, Tokomairiro High in Milton, 18 years at St Peter’s in Cambridge and the past 13 and a half years at Gisborne Girls’ High School.

“I have had some highs and lows and now it is time to move on.”

Although he looks forward to fishing, golfing, reading, writing and visiting family and friends, he is concerned about science’s future in New Zealand.

“Science as a subject is struggling,” says Dave. “Students are taking fewer academic subjects because they can get more credits.”

What he will not miss are piles of essays and tests to mark and waking up in the small hours and anguishing over behavioural issues in the classroom.

“There is a lot of pressure on full-time teachers. You take home stuff every night for planning and marking. You need a very understanding partner because so many of us are married to the job.”

He will miss Girls’ High staffroom banter and great food from the school cafe. And he will miss the students.

Girls’ High students are friendly and love to have a chat, he says.

“I’ll miss that.”

Gary File

This year marks the 400th anniversary of playwright William Shakespeare’s death, so is a fitting time to retire, says Gisborne Girls’ High School drama teacher Gary File.

Gary has been virtually synonymous with the school’s drama department, where he has taught “hundreds of actresses” for 18 years.

Retiring at the same time from long careers in teaching at Girls’ High are Graham Lawson and Dave Beard.

“There’s an awareness among us three there is a time to move on,” says Gary.

“The time is right. You need young blood in the profession. You have to acknowledge there are young ones out there with new ideas.”

The three teachers also agree it will not be easy to leave the school and the students’ energy.

“You never get bored in a school,” says Gary.

“It will be difficult to walk out on the last day. I have some wonderful memories of seeing kids starting off with no confidence to becoming their own stars.”

His only regret is that education has become assessment-obsessed, he says. Teachers seem to be deprived of the time needed to cover ideas and learn deeply because they are always rushing to the next test.

“I bemoan what I imagine is the passing of Shakespeare from the curriculum. For someone who has so much to teach, it is a shame we are losing touch with him.”

Gary looks forward to some travel and more time to sail. He is the last one in his crew to retire, he says.

“They have been waiting.”

Graham Lawson

After 42 years of teaching at Girls’ High, classical studies and history teacher Graham Lawson says his future contribution to the school will be to continue managing athletics, cross-country, triathlons and cycling.

He will liaise with the school’s sports co-ordinator to continue with the voluntary work he did while teaching.

“What I find with sport and community involvement is you make life-long friends,” he says.

Although he is not completely cutting his ties with the school, the reality of leaving his teaching career there has not hit him yet.

“I think I will feel it when I hand in my laptop and keys. I made a conscious decision not to be in Gisborne when school starts next year.”

He plans to celebrate his retirement with some fellow retirees in Christchurch.

Teaching is more stressful than people realise, he says. Teachers can get anxious about whether they are doing a good job.

“You do not want to become a grumpy old man. Teaching should be fun. You should be able to have a laugh. Students like someone with a sense of humour. They like it if you are interested in what they are doing.”

He enjoyed the collegiality he found at Girls’ High, he says.

“People go out of their way to help each other. If you are going to succeed at teaching you need to share ideas.”

Superficiality is an issue with the NCEA style of assessment, Graham says.

“Rather than focus on the getting of credits, why not focus on the development of understanding?”

New Zealand’s growing shortage of teachers also concerns him.

“The teaching profession is less attractive than it used to be. Teaching needs well-qualified, high-calibre people with a dedicated approach.”

Dave Beard

On the brink of retirement after a 42-year career in teaching, science teacher Dave Beard likens teaching to a marathon he ran in 1999.

“The 42 kilometres represented 42 years.”

Despite many hiccups along the way he enjoyed his time teaching at schools that included Lytton High, Tokomairiro High in Milton, 18 years at St Peter’s in Cambridge and the past 13 and a half years at Gisborne Girls’ High School.

“I have had some highs and lows and now it is time to move on.”

Although he looks forward to fishing, golfing, reading, writing and visiting family and friends, he is concerned about science’s future in New Zealand.

“Science as a subject is struggling,” says Dave. “Students are taking fewer academic subjects because they can get more credits.”

What he will not miss are piles of essays and tests to mark and waking up in the small hours and anguishing over behavioural issues in the classroom.

“There is a lot of pressure on full-time teachers. You take home stuff every night for planning and marking. You need a very understanding partner because so many of us are married to the job.”

He will miss Girls’ High staffroom banter and great food from the school cafe. And he will miss the students.

Girls’ High students are friendly and love to have a chat, he says.

“I’ll miss that.”

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