Gisborne Girls’ High School loses a century of teaching experience at the end of the term with three female teachers retiring. Jack Marshall caught up with the educational trio.
Geography Director Mike Tallott racked up 48 years in Girls’ High School. Guidance Counselor and Head of Student Services Sue Andrew has been there for 34 years. Responsible for health and physical education, Shelley Hunt has been a staff member for 21 years. By doing the math, the three teachers who are leaving have 103 years between them teaching at Gisborne Girls’ High School.
All three saw their families through the school. Sue had three generations of her family through the Gates. Her daughter was both a student and a teacher in Girls’ High School.
Now Sue’s granddaughter is in grade 13 at the school, which is due to finish this year, and her colleague Shelley is her teacher. Shelley brought two girls to school.
Mike, surprisingly, also taught his son in high school for girls.
âHe studied at Boys’ High, but he had a fray, as did geography with me. “
Even with 48 years behind him, Mike said he didn’t want to leave.
âI am so attached to this school. This has been my life, âhe said.
He was planning to teach for a few more years until he didn’t feel well earlier this year.
“I played golf one day and two days later I couldn’t walk.”
Although he was healthy again, he figured he had better understand the hint.
“Someone’s telling me something, so maybe I’d better stop teaching.” “
Mike has been on the school board for over 20 years and has held many positions.
“I love him. I don’t really want to stop.
“I’m going to be a big, crying baby when I leave because I probably don’t want to go.” I like to teach.
Mike grew up in Christchurch and attended Cashmere High School. In his later years, his former elementary school teacher visited the school as part of a teacher recruitment drive.
âAt the time, I liked the geography that I was doing in school and I thought to myself: ‘I could be like him’.
He applied for a scholarship, where he received a stipend while he studied with the caveat that he indeed had to start teaching once he qualified.
“I got $ 22 a fortnight, but it was enough for my bus fare from Christchurch and to buy my lunch, to bet on a racehorse and buy a few beers – $ 11 gets you a long way when you can. buy a jug of beer for about 34 cents.
He graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1973 and was offered two jobs, one in Christchurch and the other in Gisborne.
âThere was a girl I liked in college teachers who got a job in Hastings. I thought, âit’s just down the roadâ, so I accepted the job. I think I saw her twice in my first term and never saw her again.
Now Mike is more of a Gisbornite than a Southerner.
âMy brother and my parents are all dead while I’m here. I got married here. I had all of my children here and now I have a grandchild here.
âEverything has to do with school at different times in my life and I have met thousands of children who are now doing great things. “
Because he started teaching at the age of 22, the first students he taught now look more like his peers than his students.
He said 65-year-olds came to the supermarket to see him, saying, âYou were teaching me in high school. “
Sue Andrew moved to Gisborne from TÄ«rau in Waikato when she was 15 years old. She attended Lytton High School.
âWe have moved here because of the types of soil. My father was a farmer and experimented with growing soybeans.
Eager to leave high school as soon as possible, 16-year-old Sue left at the end of sixth grade (as 12th grade was then called) to go to teachers’ college, “because that would be a thing with. which my parents would agree to. â.
Sue moved to Papakura and studied at Ardmore Teachers College, being part of the last cohort to pass through there.
Once she graduated she worked as a general professor at Ilminster Intermediate and for three years as an art teacher.
Around 1985, she applied for a job at Riverton and was quickly hired. However, she had thought the school was just out of Christchurch, when instead she found herself 30 kilometers west of Invercargill.
âIt was like a whole new world – a beautiful place though,â she said.
She returned to Gisborne in 1988 and started working at Gisborne Girls’. By now, Mike had already been in school for 14 years.
The head of the faculty of physical education and health, Shelley Hunt, calls herself the âyoungâ of the group, having started at Girls’ High only in 2000, with 21 years in the school. When she started at Girls’ High, she had four children, so she only worked two hours a week.
Shelley studied physical education after enjoying the subject and having good teachers while she was in school in Matamata.
âWe were encouraged to be teachers, nurses or secretaries, maybe a dental nurse.
“I thought I would be a teacher and go very far from Matamata.”
Shelley attended the University of Otago in 1977 and once she finished she went to Auckland Teachers College.
She taught in New Zealand and for three years in Jersey, one of the Channel Islands off the west coast of France.
She came to Gisborne because her partner had lived in Mahia and was keen on surfing.
All three intend to stay busy rather than retire.
Shelley is settling down for a sweet life by running her Village Berries boutique on Ormond Road.
âWe sell berries and fruit ice cream, and now we have an orchard, so we’re going to have stone fruit and nashi. “
Mike says he will play as much golf as possible and spend time with the grandchild.
âI played my first round of golf for a while last week, which is quite surprising considering I couldn’t walk about eight weeks ago.
“I’m going to find things to do, I’m not going to sit down and vegetate.” It wouldn’t be me.
All three said that teaching as a profession has undergone massive changes over the decades.
âWhen I arrived here, there were no computers. No copier, âsaid Mike
Teachers had to make a master document and print copies by hand for the classes.
Shelley said there has been a shift from rote learning to critical thinking.
âIt went from remembering things to understanding. There is so much access to information all the time, we rely less on this part of memorization. It’s about thinking about the material and giving it meaning.
Mike thinks education was more difficult then in geography, while Shelley says education now requires different skills than rote learning.
Classroom management and student expectations have also changed, Sue said.
âWhen I left the normal school, we were given a strap. It was a regulation size and you weren’t allowed to use anything else. Girls over the age of 10 were not allowed to be tied up. I don’t know exactly why.
It was around 1975.
âI never used mine and it wasn’t because of higher feelings of what was right or wrong, it was just because I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the class.
“What would happen is the kids would pull their hands away and it would just be too embarrassing if you did it wrong.”
The teaching style of the past was much more authoritative.
âWe were told not to smile in the first term because you were ‘setting the standards,’ said Sue.
Today, student-teacher relationships are essential for education, especially in its work as a guidance counselor.
âGetting to know families means we know who mom and dad and extended family are,â Sue said.
âRelationships are really, really important. Teachers stay in touch with families more than ever before. It used to be just the student they got to know, âSue said.
Mike agreed, saying connecting with students is essential.
âIt’s about developing relationships and building relationships with children. You will know if you are wrong and you can change it, âsaid Mike.
Mike says the key is to find and work on your teaching style.
âI do things other teachers don’t. I sang songs and I climb on desks and under desks. I did a lot of crazy things but it kept them happy.
Shelley says it’s about knowing students on a personal level.
“And let them know, to some extent, that you are not just a teacher, but that you are a person as well.”
She said modern education allows children to ask questions, even if they are sometimes off topic.
âIf I can make the kids curious and continue on this path, I think I’ve been successful.
âI don’t do what Mike does, but teaching is fun and can be really rewarding. “
The principal of the high school for girls, Jan Kumar, said that we will miss all three.
âThe experience and wisdom of these three people will be a huge loss to our school. I thank them for all their amazing services and wish them good luck on their next adventures.
MOVING FORWARD: Left to right, Shelley Hunt, Mike Tallott and Sue Andrew are leaving Gisborne Girls’ High after dedicating a total of 103 years to educating the next generation. Photo by Rebecca Grunwell
NO SCHOOL LIKE OLD SCHOOL: Mike Tallott in 1975 with his very first class at Gisborne Girls’ High School Photo provided