School's out for teacher at school down by the bay

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.
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 return.

''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 enjoy school.''

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 also teachers.

- john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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