Colour­ful send-off

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Jan­uary, 1977, might seem a long, long time ago but for Jean Cowan it feels like yes­ter­day.

That was when she started teach­ing at Maraeroa School, af­ter pre­vi­ous stints at Tairangi School and in her na­tive Cook Is­lands. On June 29, Ms Cowan bought the cur­tain down on her ca­reer, af­ter a ‘‘won­der­ful’’ send­off in Maraeroa’s hall.

There was plenty of colour, laugh­ter and song – with the Cook Is­lands High Com­mis­sioner in at­ten­dance – but no sad­ness.

‘‘I thought I might cry be­cause this has been such a huge part of my life for so many years but I was too busy hav­ing a good time to worry about be­ing sad. It doesn’t feel like 35 years, I can’t be­lieve it.’’

Hold­ing class­room teacher and as­so­ciate prin­ci­pal roles meant no day was ever the same, which kept her in­vig­o­rated for 35 years.

‘‘If I was work­ing in an of­fice I think it would have been dif­fer­ent. But as a teacher you have new kids and new par­ents ev­ery year, new chal­lenges, and I loved it.’’

Be­ing part of the ‘‘com­mu­nity’’ that en­com­passed a school like Maraeroa was im­por­tant to her.

‘‘The peo­ple who sup­port this school are amaz­ing. I en­joyed es­tab­lish­ing re­la­tion­ships in the school and out there [ in Porirua], that was a huge part of what I wanted to do.’’

To­day, with chil­dren more tech­nol­ogy-savvy, teach­ers face ex­tra pres­sure to keep up. But at the heart of pri­mary teach­ing must re­main the de­sire to nur­ture young lives, she says.

Teach­ers at this level must de­velop with the times but con­tinue to be ‘‘en­ter­tain­ers’’ as well as men­tors and ed­u­ca­tors. Re­al­is­ing that ‘‘one size does not fit all’’ is cru­cial to suc­cess.

‘‘Teach­ing is not a 9am to 3pm job, some­times you are like par­ents and nurses and teach­ers, all in one. You need to plan well and the [pay­off] for me was to see a child mov­ing for­ward with good writ­ing, read­ing and maths skills.’’

It was dur­ing a re­cent trip to a wed­ding in Raro­tonga that Ms Cowan re­assessed her work­ing life, de­cid­ing the preva­lent Cook Is­land at­ti­tude of ‘‘ work­ing to live’’ rather than vice versa would be her creed.

‘‘I want more time with my grand­chil­dren, more time for me.’’

Heart­felt good­bye: Along with her deep lo­cal knowl­edge and teach­ing skills, Ms Cowan’s pro­fi­ciency with a ukulele and abil­ity to dec­o­rate a hall will be missed by her col­leagues at Maraeroa School. Her dy­namic dress sense – es­pe­cially in the hand­bag de­part­ment – will be re­mem­bered fondly.

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