Teaching over but project to go on

John McGlashan College science teacher Andrew Innes uses a water monitoring device in one of the last experiments of his teaching career. Photo by Linda Robertson.
John McGlashan College science teacher Andrew Innes uses a water monitoring device in one of the last experiments of his teaching career. Photo by Linda Robertson.
For 41 years, the message from Andrew Innes to his pupils has remained the same - take an interest in things, be prepared to get your hands dirty, and learn to work hard.

''There won't be another opportunity to do this for free.

''The kids who do best are those who are prepared to take a risk and get their hands dirty.''

The 65-year-old John McGlashan College science teacher said it was a message that had come directly from his own experiences in life.

''As a young person, education was wasted on me. I could have had a more grown-up approach to school.

''It was only when I started teaching that I realised that I had a deeper appreciation of science and scientific investigation.

''It's a message that I pass on to my pupils every day.''

Mr Innes began his teaching career in 1972 at Waitaki Boys' High School after completing a zoology degree and a teaching degree.

Two years later, he moved to Dunedin where he spent five years at Kaikorai Valley College, then another five years as head of sciences at Columba College, before heading to John McGlashan College, where he has spent the past 29 years, much of it as head of sciences.

Mr Innes said he was now looking forward to retirement at the end of this year.

He has a busy schedule planned, making up for lost time with family, doing some tramping and climbing ''while there's still a bit of gas in the tank'', working in his garden and continuing some of the science experiments he had established during his time as a teacher.

During the past eight years, he has established and run the Healthy Harbour Watchers, a group of secondary school pupils trying to plug the gap of information available about the health of the Otago Harbour.

Mr Innes said the group grew out of research he did while on a Royal Society fellowship in 2005 when he realised there was no readily accessible information on the quality of the harbour's water.

He planned to continue the project in his retirement, he said.

''What's in your head keeps you going. While your brain is working, keep using it.''

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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