Mov­ing on after three decades

Hamilton Press - - OUT & ABOUT - KEL­LEY TANTAU

Gretchen Cal­laghan knows Hamil­ton West School like the back of her hand.

She’s been teach­ing there for 33 years.

But in 1984 when Cal­laghan started, there were no such things as zones. The school’s size was a lot smaller than it is to­day.

She can re­call the time a cat adopted it­self onto the school and, be­fore that, hear­ing sto­ries about a bull get­ting loose from the stock­yard.

She’s seen changes ma­te­ri­alise out­side her win­dow, but last month, Cal­laghan re­tired from the in­dus­try she’s been a part of for five decades.

Cal­laghan’s first teach­ing job was at Raglan District High School in 1969.

‘‘In those days, prob­a­bly the things that were open to most peo­ple were typ­ing and teach­ing. I wasn’t a typ­ist,’’ she said.

‘‘We used chalk and pen­cils. Our equip­ment was dif­fer­ent, our class num­bers were dif­fer­ent.

‘‘I can re­mem­ber when I was teach­ing at Var­don School, I had 43 Year Ones. We had big num­bers.

‘‘There were no schools in Pukete, and In­soll and Fifth Av­enue were grow­ing places.’’

Since then, Cal­laghan has taught at Melville Pri­mary, Var­don School, Hill­crest Nor­mal, In­soll Av­enue and Fifth Av­enue (now Te Ara Rima).

But Hamil­ton West has been Cal­laghan’s long­est stint.

The school, lo­cated on Ham­mond St, is Hamil­ton’s old­est.

It was built in 1864, and on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, was used as a mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal dur­ing World War II.

‘‘I have taught a lot of chil­dren in the school, I’ve taught some-

‘‘I think we are re­ally lucky with our chil­dren and our en­vi­ron­ment.’’

times their par­ents and I have even taught their grand­par­ents,’’ Cal­laghan said.

‘‘I do see the gen­er­a­tions com­ing through.

‘‘I think we are re­ally lucky with our chil­dren and our en­vi­ron­ment and our par­ents.’’

Hamil­ton West School’s sym­bol is a pu¯keko and Cal­laghan was gifted a sculp­ture of the bird as a de­par­ture gift.

She said it was the per­fect time to re­tire, and the pu¯keko will act as a re­minder of fond mem­o­ries at the school.

Deputy prin­ci­pal of Hamil­ton West School Gretchen Cal­laghan will be missed.

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