The Past Comes Calling

For a brief window of time after leaving school, I was a primary school teacher. I loved the first three years–one spent at Whangarei, the next two at Edendale Primary in Sandringham, and then I was thrown out on my ear to fend for myself. Those were the days when you were paid to be a student for three years at teacher’s college, and then you needed to serve out your bond for three years, and after that you were on your own. That fourth year was always a tough one. You usually got given the tough kids, the old prefab for a classroom, and the lion’s share of playground duty. That’s how I experienced it anyway. After two months of crossing town to get there, and struggling through the days with unmotivated students, I would come home and sniffle back a few tears. Finally I gave up and pursued my love of art and illustration.

Anyway, my last full year of teaching was in 1980, and I loved this class. As with all my classes, I read profusely from Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and A. A. Milne. These were children aged between 7 and 9 and ready to take on some of these amazing stories. A few days ago I got a message on my Outrageous Outlander page from someone who requested I call them. I ignored it. Then he sent a photo of the class of 1980 and identified himself, and said that some of the class were meeting today for a drink and a catch up. Naturally I decided to go and see how they had turned out.

Here’s the class of 1980.


With some trepidation I made my way to Sandringham to meet up with some of these students after 38 years absence. To my delight there were students from the neighbouring classrooms as well and also their teacher, who I knew as Janie Watts. I have a great two hours telling anecdotes, hearing the same, and putting faces to some of the ones in this pic.


I have told the duckling story for many years, partly because it was so funny, and partly because it is humbling to realise that I did such silly things back then. Yes, I set up a crude bench in the room with the legs facing OUT, and put a small duckling inside. And yes, the sweet child with the pigtails in the front row put her legs up against the bench and it came down, effectively squashing the duckling. It was Bart’s first pet – and Bart was there today.

My colleague has long since left teaching as well, although she has done plenty of unpaid teaching at mission stations around the world. I am going to find out more from her in coming days.


My head is still whirling with the pleasant couple of hours spent seeing these fine men and women again. I hope the next time, a few more will come.