There will never be another Mrs Willi

South Waikato News - - BUSINESS HOTLINE -

Mrs Willi, Mrs Netball, Auty Heather, or Heather Wil­liamson as some know her, is about to clock out of school for the last time.

Forty years at the front of a class­room is enough for the 69-yearold, who will be sorely missed by her col­leagues and stu­dents.

If For­est View High School could claim one con­stant since it first opened in 1974 it would be Heather.

Her story be­gan when she vol­un­teered to start netball at the school and help out with ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Clearly the ac­com­plished typ­ist showed po­ten­tial and was hired as a part­time typ­ing teacher two months later.

The born leader be­came a head of depart­ment just one year on.

Tr­ish Priscott said her col­league’s loy­alty to the school was end­less.

‘‘ It was she who coined the phrase ‘‘For­est View fam­ily’’...the most im­por­tant legacy that [she] leaves.’’

She said class­room A5 was her home away from home.

‘‘ In fact I am sure that at times, Brian [her hus­band] thought that El­iz­a­beth Drive was the home away from home.’’

Heather, a Jus­tice of the Peace, said form­ing close bonds with her stu­dents came nat­u­rally.

‘‘ You see some of them down at netball and they all trust me. It’s all to do with fam­ily.’’

And more than 4000 for­mer and present stu­dents can lay tes­ta­ment to that claim.

But with such a large fam­ily to care for, tragedy was in­evitable.

‘‘ The most dif­fi­cult time was when Jamie Elder died after a rugby mishap. At an in­ter­school Satur­day rugby game be­ing played at school, it was just a tackle and the next day he died in hos­pi­tal,’’ Heather said.

She also re­called a 1991 tragedy when some School A netball play­ers were killed in a car crash on their way home from a tour­na­ment in Mata­mata.

‘‘It made you hum­ble ... It makes you re­silient and hum­ble, es­pe­cially about how the South Waikato com­mu­nity all work to­gether as a team at times like that.’’

The South Waikato Ed­u­ca­tion Trust chair­woman is a firm be­liever in learn­ing for life and her forte has al­ways been lead­ing by ex­am­ple.

Heather was one of sev­eral teach­ers from Toko­roa who com­pleted the ‘‘ground break­ing’’ Diploma in Com­puter Ed­u­ca­tion fol­lowed by a Grad­u­ate Diploma.

She em­braced tech­no­log­i­cal changes and was in­stru­men­tal in the adop­tion of NCEA.

Tr­ish said she is a leader in her sub­ject hav­ing served as a School Cer­tifi­cate Typ­ing marker and a NZQA mod­er­a­tor for her sub­ject area. She has been re­spon­si­ble for in­tro­duc­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tions such a the Na­tional Cer­tifi­cate in Business Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Com­put­ing in many large schools in the Waikato.

It was no won­der she re­ceived a Na­tional Educ­tion Ser­vice Award in 2000. Only 25 teach­ers re­ceived this award.

Tr­ish said she has and still is a par­ent away from home to many.

‘‘Almost with­out fail, young peo­ple ad­dress her as Mrs Willi – not a sign of dis­re­spect but of af­fec­tion. They have huge re­spect for Heather, they un­der­stand and ac­cept and most im­por­tantly adopt her val­ued and high stan­dards.’’

There will never be another Heather, she said.

‘‘ We are very glad that, although she is leav­ing our school, she is not leav­ing our com­mu­nity.’’

Loved by all: Heather Wil­liamson has taught All Blacks, Sil­ver Ferns, doc­tors and many other high achievers in her 40 years at For­est View.

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