Moving on after three decades
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.