By ROBYN BRISTOW
Liz Dean really wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, but was talked out of it.
Instead, her parents, Tom and Helen Latter, of Woodstock Station, and View Hill Primary School teacher Bill Bignall pushed her toward primary teaching because she would have a job wherever she lived.
Liz is retiring from a 45-year career in teaching that has seen her teach in Southland, the West Coast, Woodend and, finally, Amberley, where she has been a member of staff for 31 years – 28 of them as deputy principal.
Liz says her love of children, the holidays that allowed her to be with her children as they grew up, and the wonderful “family” at Amberley School kept her teaching.
She admits it is going to be hard to walk away, having already tried.
She retired as deputy principal and cut back to four days a week in 2017, but was back full time this year, finding she worked just as hard in four days as five.
Even as she leaves at the end of this term, she is not turning her back on teaching, having already offered to relieve.
Liz says she has not quite reached the stage where she is teaching the third generation of some families, but she is certainly on to the second generation.
Her career in teaching has been in the junior department, and many of those had become extremely successful, including All Black Brodie Retallick, dual New Zealand representative, basketballer and netballer Donna Loffhagen, and the Keane boys whose building efforts have been in the news recently.
But she has also seen those who have ended up at the opposite end of the spectrum, and even some jailed for murder.
Liz has no regrets as she farewells her teaching family, which has provided her with a job wherever her family found itself.
After her education at View Hill School, near Oxford, and Nelson Girls’ College, she did her teacher training at Teacher’s College in Cranmer Square.
In the first two years of teaching, graduates were “placed” while they were graded, with only one year at each school.
Her first position was in 1965 at Oxford District High School. teaching primer 3 and 4, before going to Wyndham District High School for a year, teaching 35 standard-1 students.
Liz then taught at Pleasant Point School for two terms before marrying Allen Dean and moving to Mossburn, where she taught from 1968 to 1972.
The couple had a pub in Southland, followed by one on the West Coast, during which time Liz and Allen started their family, with teaching put on hold for several years.
On selling the West Coast pub, they began looking for a house to rent.
They not only got a house, but Liz got a teaching job as well for a term in 1980, as the house belonged to the principal of the Westport North School.
“I loved being back teaching and applied for a permanent job at the Westport South School in 1981,” recalls Liz, who held the position for five years, starting as a classroom teacher, then a senior teacher.
Liz taught in an open-plan space – 80 Year 2 and 3 children with two teachers. This year she has taught in a similar open-plan space, but with 70 children and three teachers.
In 1985, the family moved to Woodend where Liz taught Year 5 children, but she did not see a secure future there so applied for a position in Amberley, becoming its deputy principal in 1988, where she taught new entrants for most of her 31 years at the school, with two years teaching Years 2, 3 and 4.
Liz has also taken the reins at the school as principal on several occasions, has been active in Parent Teacher Associations in several of the schools she taught in, and was the Board of Trustees staff representative for several years at Amberley, and on the board at Rangiora High School.
“And in between we have owned pubs and cafes,” says Liz, including Castle Park, established by her late husband at Leithfield 13 years ago. It included a confidence course and a paintball park.