Macandrew Bay School new entrants (from left) James Cameron
(5), Sam McGee (5), Luke Northey (6) and James Freeman (6)
find it hard to smile as they farewell their teacher and
deputy principal Lee Matthews. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Thirty-two years ago, Lee Matthews thought her teaching
career was over.
She had been teaching at Manurewa East Primary School in
South Auckland before moving to Wellington where she taught
at Cannons Creek and Linden Primary Schools.
''Then I had two children and I thought I would never come
back to teaching again.''
Fortunately for Macandrew Bay School, in Dunedin, she did
''When I took my eldest to school for preschool visits, I
found it very interesting how much teaching had changed.
''It wasn't the teacher standing in front of the class
telling the children what to do anymore.
''It stirred up my passion for teaching again.''
After filling a few part-time positions, she took full-time
positions at Kakanui School (Oamaru), Balclutha Primary
School and Brighton Primary School before settling at
Macandrew Bay School, where she has spent the past 27 years.
''After all those moves, we found such a lovely area and
decided to settle.''
For much of her time at Macandrew Bay School, Mrs Matthews
has been the new entrants teacher and the deputy principal.
''The reason I stayed in teaching so long is it's rewarding
to see new entrants come in and learn to read and write, and
She recalled one particular child who was in her first
reading recovery class at the school.
''He now has his doctorate and is a lecturer in Europe. It
feels great to have made a difference to the life of someone
who is making such a difference to the lives of others.''
After more than 40 years in the profession, the 65-year-old
said she wanted to devote more time to her family and so will
retire at the end of this year.
''It will be very odd to leave my classroom, and it will be
hard to leave Dunedin.''
Mrs Matthews plans to move to Wellington with her husband,
Roger, to be near their grandchildren and daughters who are