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
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
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
"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
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
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.