Opening doors to diversity
Eighty-year-old Regine MacBean never really left school.
The Mt Eden resident’s love for learning began when she stepped on to the grounds of a tiny Waikato school as a new entrant. She became a teacher and with her exuberance for learning she has shaped the minds of thousands of children.
Last year she retired from Mt Roskill Primary School but even after 53 years of teaching she couldn’t truly sever her ties with education and is back doing relief work.
MacBean says she was surprised to receive a Queen’s Service Medal for services to education.
She says her work has been nothing special and she has just done what she enjoys.
The things that stand out over her career are the simple but very real moments like making a record using the Pink Panther music with her class, she says.
‘‘It probably sounds silly but it is just the diversity – you do all the good basics but you also do all the fun things, the music, the dance and drama. I loved that.’’
During her last 27 years at Mt Roskill Primary she led the English as a Second Language team which specialises in teaching students with little or no English skills. She says more than 90 per cent of Mt Roskill children are from nonEnglish speaking backgrounds.
‘‘The first thing we teach them are the words that will keep them safe,’’ she says.
‘‘We have to make them feel accepted and that the environment is welcoming and that any contribution is accepted even if it is by word, or gesture.’’
She says the biggest change during her career has been Auckland’s growing diversity.
‘‘Some people in the good old days stayed back but I never have. I have always welcomed those changes.
‘‘Diversity is my new norm. The classroom has kept me contemporary and with the time and I’ve always been thankful for that.
‘‘We have people from almost all corners of the earth who are now New Zealand citizens and they contribute to our society and open doors to other ways of thinking.’’