Drama teacher to take final bow

Logan Park High School drama teacher Denise Walsh with senior drama pupils (from left) Orion Carey-Clark (17), Dominic Harrison (17), Jordan Dickson (18) and Andrew Brinsley-Pirie (18). Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Logan Park High School drama teacher Denise Walsh with senior drama pupils (from left) Orion Carey-Clark (17), Dominic Harrison (17), Jordan Dickson (18) and Andrew Brinsley-Pirie (18). Photo by Peter McIntosh.
When you have been a teacher for 47 years, there must be a good reason.

Denise Walsh (69) said hers was simple - working with children kept you on your toes.

The 69-year-old will retire at the end of this year after teaching several generations of Dunedin families.

"I'm not leaving because I want to. I like teaching. It keeps you on your toes. The kids keep you moving with the times.

"But it's time to stop. It would be nice to spend some more time with family," she said.

Ms Walsh started her career as a shorthand typing teacher at Linwood High School in Christchurch, before moving to Dunedin where she taught the subject at King Edward Technical College.

She is one of only a few teachers still at Logan Park High School who made the move from the college to the new site in 1976.

As for the move from shorthand typing to drama, that was based purely on personal interest, she said.

"I had always been interested in drama. I'm self taught really.

"There was no training for classes like that in those days.

"I helped introduce sixth form certificate and unit standards - I helped to legitimise drama nationally as an educational and vocational path."

Ms Walsh is not fond of blowing her own trumpet about her success. But she does not need to, because her pupils do that for her.

Former pupils achieving success and stardom include Tim Foley (Shortland Street, Legend of the Seeker, Spartacus: Blood and Sand), Anna Henare (Shortland Street) and Serena Cotton (The Insider's Guide to Love). Eight pupils have also been accepted into the Shakespeare Globe programme.

Under her guidance, pupils at the school have won the Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare competition almost yearly and she had lost count of how many national awards they had won.

"I love how innovative and clever kids are, how open to new ideas they are, how supportive of each other they are, and how generous they are when other people have success.

"I'll miss the kids so much - but not the paper work."

Like so many retiring teachers, Ms Walsh said she, too, would never be completely removed from education.

She still had plenty of ideas for plays which she wanted to write.

And she would return to Logan Park High School, to maintain the garden plots around the campus.

"Some years ago, I thought the gardens were looking a bit drab, so I got together with the groundsman and we put some colour about the place. I'll return from time to time to make sure it stays that way," she said.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

 

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