There will never be another Mrs Willi
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.