Retiring Kaitangata School principal Joyce Beck. Photo by
Helena de Reus.
Kaitangata Primary School principal Joyce Beck is
stepping down after 21 years in that post.
Mrs Beck (63) is retiring after 33 years at the school.
''I just decided that when the school is in good heart, with
good staff, it was time.''
Born and raised in Kaitangata, Mrs Beck spent her entire
teaching career at the school, with the exception of her
first year out of training teaching in Gore.
''The kids are great, the teachers are hard-working. We have
very good staff.''
Mrs Beck said her very supportive family was essential for
those balancing the role's demands.
''My husband Syd has been wonderful. He is very supportive
and a very good cook. He also used to be a builder, so he's
done lots of jobs around the school.''
Mrs Beck will also mentor new principal Anneta Payne
part-time for a term next year. Mrs Payne was the deputy
principal at the school.
''The school is in good hands. I'll still be involved with
the school through mentoring and releasing [relieving]
teachers,'' Mrs Beck said.
''Teaching is what I love. I also wanted to do some part-time
work before I retired with no responsibilities.''
She would do some relieving of teachers at Balclutha Primary
One of the major changes over the years had been the falling
school role, she said.
''When I started, the principal was worried the roll would
drop below 230, and she would have to start being a teaching
principal. They had eight teachers then.''
With the school roll at 107, it now has five teachers and the
''The roll is also more transient. In the early days families
would be here for years.''
The school had undergone improvements, with an upgraded hall,
verandas added and classroom interiors upgraded.
After stepping back from her community involvement last year
due to pneumonia, she said, she would rejoin community
groups: the Kaitangata and District Promotions, Kaitangata
Black Gold Heritage Centre and Museum and the Neighbourhood
The decision capped off an interesting year for Mrs Beck, who
in June was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for services to
She provides coaching for young people with reading
difficulties and supervised the planning and construction of
the school's gymnasium and hall.
She is also an elder of the Kaitangata-Stirling-Lovells Flat
Presbyterian parish, and helped organise the construction of
the church at Kaitangata. She organises
strengthening-families meetings with groups including Child,
Youth and Family, Women's Refuge, Police Youth Aid, and
health camps, and assists Corrections with community
Mrs Beck said she planned to continue with her community
service, and hoped to spend more time in the garden.
''I won't be shifting away anytime soon. This is my home.''