Science teacher re­tires af­ter 44 year-long ca­reer


Af­ter 44 years teach­ing ap­prox­i­mately 4000 stu­dents Far North science teacher Phil Webb is hang­ing up his safety glasses.

Webb be­gan his teach­ing ca­reer at Here­taunga Col­lege in Up­per Hutt, Welling­ton, in 1974 where he stayed for seven years be­fore tak­ing a pro­mo­tion to be­come head of science at Okai­hau Col­lege. The plan he says was to stay in Okai­hau for two years, then move back to a city school.

‘‘That part never got recog­nised be­cause we be­came North­landers and thought liv­ing in par­adise was hard to beat - the Bay of Is­lands is a pretty neat place,’’ Webb says.

Over the years he has taught chem­istry, physics, maths, graph­ics and phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion. Webb com­pleted a Bach­e­lor of Science with a ma­jor in chem­istry at the Uni­ver­sity of Can­ter­bury and dur­ing his fi­nal year worked part time in a lab­o­ra­tory as well as study­ing.

‘‘I thought work­ing with a piece of inan­i­mate rub­ber wasn’t go­ing to be much of a fun life, so I thought I’d give teach­ing a go and once in the ca­reer I’ve had no re­grets.’’

Some of the high­lights of his teach­ing ca­reer in­clude teach­ing refugees dur­ing the post Viet­nam War era, the first pro­mo­tion to head of science, and hav­ing an ex stu­dent be his su­per­vi­sor dur­ing a year’s sci­en­tific re­search into grow­ing gold ki­wifruit and test­ing man­darins for su­gar to acid ra­tios.

Webb says it has also been in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing to keep in touch with for­mer stu­dents and to hear of their suc­cesses.

‘‘To see a lit­tle year seven as per­haps a shy and quiet per­son and watch them grow and de­velop into stun­ning peo­ple that grad­u­ate as year 13’s with con­fi­dence and skills to go and con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety, it’s an in­ter­est­ing jour­ney.’’

With 20 years un­der his belt in Okai­hau, he moved to Spring­bank School in 2001, where he worked part time for two years be­fore

‘‘Once in the ca­reer I've had no re­grets.’’ Phil Webb

tak­ing up the head of science po­si­tion and a role as deputy prin­ci­pal for the se­nior school.

Af­ter turn­ing 67 on Oc­to­ber 31, Webb says he plans to spend his new found free time with his fam­ily and sail­ing in the Bay of Is­lands Sail­ing Week. His last day is De­cem­ber 8. A spe­cial as­sem­bly will be held to farewell Phil Webb on Novem­ber 17 at 1pm, with any well wish­ers in­vited to at­tend at the Spring­bank School Hall.

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Spring­bank School deputy prin­ci­pal Phil Webb is re­tir­ing from teach­ing af­ter 44 years.

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