Principal going after 21 years

Retiring Kaitangata School principal Joyce Beck. Photo by Helena de Reus.
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 School.

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 principal.

''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 Support.

The decision capped off an interesting year for Mrs Beck, who in June was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for services to the community.

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 placements.

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.''