Saying goodbye to teaching

END OF AN ERA: Lesley Seymour with four of the year 5 and 6 students she taught. From left are David Gray, Phoenix Battin, Cairo Vertongen and Keanu Makiri. Behind them is the Native Plant Area that was planted by former Te Hapara teacher Ivan Hughes and which Lesley has helped expand and plant with the help of the wider school community.
Lesley stands by the colourful mural depiciting the four names of the school’s class syndicates: Titirangi, Takitimu, Turanganui and Tuamotu.

WHEN asked to name some highlights of her long career Lesley Seymour was stumped.

“It’s all a highlight. I’ve really loved teaching. I’ve really loved being with the kids and watching them grow.”

Lesley has seen a lot of change during her 47 year career. One of the most significant changes was when the Ministry of Education introduced ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ in 1989 she said. This was an education initiative to make schools more manageable and to set new curriculum with specific criteria.

“There were some major curriculum changes at that time and we did a lot of PD (professional development) around that. We had to be up-skilled. You have to move with the times and in education things have evolved so much and are constantly changing.”

She said keeping up with technology has been one of the biggest challenges she faced.

“We used to hand write everything and now we do everything on computers.”

In the classroom it’s gone from chalk boards to white boards to interactive white boards she said. Now the students have one-to-one devices which means they all have a device they can access.

“We still get teaching resources from the Ministry like books and reading journals however more and more funding is required these days for resourcing schools.”

She said she’s been lucky at Te Hapara School to have always had principals that kept abreast of the changes happening in education and made sure that the teachers are up-skilled.

“We’ve had a number of outstanding principals who do professional reading and keep in contact with other principals in and out of the district to ensure our region keeps moving forward.”

Lesley was born and raised in Wellington. She went to Brooklyn Primary School then Wellington Girls College and trained at Wellington Teachers Training College.

“I used to go to school on the tram for a penny.”

“My mum was the staffing officer for the Education Board for the Wellington region which stretched from Waipukurau down to Marlborough. She used to ensure that each school in the region was fully staffed no matter whether it was sole charge country school or a large city school. This must have been a logistical nightmare on occasions.”

Trainees

She remembers representatives of Wellington Training College coming to her college to recruit trainee teachers. She was asked to apply and got accepted which led to two full-time years of training.

Her youngest daughter Gillian caught the teaching bug and is now teaching in Perth, Australia. Her eldest, JoAnne, lives in America where she owns an indoor soccer business.

“She has lived there longer than she has lived in New Zealand now.”

A job at Riverdale Primary brought Lesley to Gisborne in 1969.

“There were no teaching jobs in Wellington so 50 of us from the Wellington Teachers Training College were allocated jobs in the Hawke’s Bay board and I think it was five who came up here to Gisborne. Out of the five, two are still teaching — myself and Marie Murphy who is on the staff here at Te Hapara. That was my first job and I stayed for two and a half years. It had really good staff, I can name them all from that first year.”

Passionate about travel Lesley admits she timed her retirement to fit in with a trip to England daughter JoAnne had been planning.

“We’re going to go and see family – just the two of us.”

She also admits to feeling apprehensive about retirement.

“I don’t think my car is going to get used to it at all. It’s so used to driving the one way up here for 43 years. It doesn’t know any where else.”

“I think it will be a challenge. I hope to stay involved with the school helping out wherever there is a need. It will keep me in contact with the kids too.”

Staff make for a special school

She said there are many things that make the school special, especially the staff. She’s taught so many people in the community and is now teaching some second generation pupils.

“They’re now back with their own kids so you have that rapport straight away.”

When asked what her legacy will be she said she hopes her teaching has had a positive impact especially with those students who have needed a boost in confidence.

“I like challenging them to realise they know they can do something. I like working with children who don’t always find learning easy and try to find an approach that suits them.”

One of the highlights of her career was four years of extra-curricula study she and several other staff members undertook back in the late 90s.

“We did a technology diploma through Christchurch College of Education. I really enjoyed that.”

I have taught with some wonderful staff members — unfortunately some have passed away now but we were like a family.

“When I initially came here many of the staff members had already been at the school for 10 - 20 years — so a lot of us stayed for many years in the same school. It has been like a family for so long.”

As she walks through the school grounds she is warmly greeted by the students and it is easy to see how loved she is. She’ll be back for fundraising and gardening and will continue to watch the after-school sports.

She said she is looking forward to no more paperwork, to travel, reading, having a bit of time to herself and to visiting friends and family around the world. But what she will miss the most is the kids.

“Just the other day someone came to me with a white board and said ‘look miss — see, I can do it’. I just gave him a big hug and said ‘you’re right — you’ve got it’. It was a math problem. Those are the special moments when you see a twinkle in their eye and a big smile and you think wow.”

WHEN asked to name some highlights of her long career Lesley Seymour was stumped.

“It’s all a highlight. I’ve really loved teaching. I’ve really loved being with the kids and watching them grow.”

Lesley has seen a lot of change during her 47 year career. One of the most significant changes was when the Ministry of Education introduced ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ in 1989 she said. This was an education initiative to make schools more manageable and to set new curriculum with specific criteria.

“There were some major curriculum changes at that time and we did a lot of PD (professional development) around that. We had to be up-skilled. You have to move with the times and in education things have evolved so much and are constantly changing.”

She said keeping up with technology has been one of the biggest challenges she faced.

“We used to hand write everything and now we do everything on computers.”

In the classroom it’s gone from chalk boards to white boards to interactive white boards she said. Now the students have one-to-one devices which means they all have a device they can access.

“We still get teaching resources from the Ministry like books and reading journals however more and more funding is required these days for resourcing schools.”

She said she’s been lucky at Te Hapara School to have always had principals that kept abreast of the changes happening in education and made sure that the teachers are up-skilled.

“We’ve had a number of outstanding principals who do professional reading and keep in contact with other principals in and out of the district to ensure our region keeps moving forward.”

Lesley was born and raised in Wellington. She went to Brooklyn Primary School then Wellington Girls College and trained at Wellington Teachers Training College.

“I used to go to school on the tram for a penny.”

“My mum was the staffing officer for the Education Board for the Wellington region which stretched from Waipukurau down to Marlborough. She used to ensure that each school in the region was fully staffed no matter whether it was sole charge country school or a large city school. This must have been a logistical nightmare on occasions.”

Trainees

She remembers representatives of Wellington Training College coming to her college to recruit trainee teachers. She was asked to apply and got accepted which led to two full-time years of training.

Her youngest daughter Gillian caught the teaching bug and is now teaching in Perth, Australia. Her eldest, JoAnne, lives in America where she owns an indoor soccer business.

“She has lived there longer than she has lived in New Zealand now.”

A job at Riverdale Primary brought Lesley to Gisborne in 1969.

“There were no teaching jobs in Wellington so 50 of us from the Wellington Teachers Training College were allocated jobs in the Hawke’s Bay board and I think it was five who came up here to Gisborne. Out of the five, two are still teaching — myself and Marie Murphy who is on the staff here at Te Hapara. That was my first job and I stayed for two and a half years. It had really good staff, I can name them all from that first year.”

Passionate about travel Lesley admits she timed her retirement to fit in with a trip to England daughter JoAnne had been planning.

“We’re going to go and see family – just the two of us.”

She also admits to feeling apprehensive about retirement.

“I don’t think my car is going to get used to it at all. It’s so used to driving the one way up here for 43 years. It doesn’t know any where else.”

“I think it will be a challenge. I hope to stay involved with the school helping out wherever there is a need. It will keep me in contact with the kids too.”

Staff make for a special school

She said there are many things that make the school special, especially the staff. She’s taught so many people in the community and is now teaching some second generation pupils.

“They’re now back with their own kids so you have that rapport straight away.”

When asked what her legacy will be she said she hopes her teaching has had a positive impact especially with those students who have needed a boost in confidence.

“I like challenging them to realise they know they can do something. I like working with children who don’t always find learning easy and try to find an approach that suits them.”

One of the highlights of her career was four years of extra-curricula study she and several other staff members undertook back in the late 90s.

“We did a technology diploma through Christchurch College of Education. I really enjoyed that.”

I have taught with some wonderful staff members — unfortunately some have passed away now but we were like a family.

“When I initially came here many of the staff members had already been at the school for 10 - 20 years — so a lot of us stayed for many years in the same school. It has been like a family for so long.”

As she walks through the school grounds she is warmly greeted by the students and it is easy to see how loved she is. She’ll be back for fundraising and gardening and will continue to watch the after-school sports.

She said she is looking forward to no more paperwork, to travel, reading, having a bit of time to herself and to visiting friends and family around the world. But what she will miss the most is the kids.

“Just the other day someone came to me with a white board and said ‘look miss — see, I can do it’. I just gave him a big hug and said ‘you’re right — you’ve got it’. It was a math problem. Those are the special moments when you see a twinkle in their eye and a big smile and you think wow.”

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