Re­tir­ing maths teach­ers a win­ning for­mula

Otago Daily Times - - DUNEDIN - JOHN LEWIS [email protected]

THEY say a good friend is a per­son who knows you bet­ter than you know your­self.

That is cer­tainly the case for re­tir­ing Taieri Col­lege math­e­mat­ics teach­ers Gwenda Hill (64) and Sally Shanks (63).

The duo have worked to­gether in the school’s maths depart­ment for more than three decades, but the bonds of their friend­ship do not end there.

They were both born in Owaka, they are both for­mer pupils of The Taieri High School, they were both mar­ried in Mos­giel on the same day, and they oc­ca­sion­ally take hol­i­days to­gether.

They joked that it was hard to for­get their wed­ding an­niver­sary be­cause at least one of them al­ways re­mem­bered it.

‘‘We go out and cel­e­brate our wed­ding an­niver­saries to­gether, and we take our hus­bands along to pay the bill,’’ Mrs Shanks said.

When they are away from the pry­ing eyes of pupils, it is not un­usual to see them tease and joke with each other.

Mrs Hill said there had been a few staff over the years say, ‘‘Oh, you’re so aw­ful to one an­other’’.

But Mrs Shanks said, ‘‘If we didn’t like one an­other, we would be in­cred­i­bly po­lite.’’

Mrs Hill said she could not imag­ine work­ing at the school with­out her ‘‘partner in crime’’.

‘‘I have had to when Sally’s been off some­times, and it’s re­ally hard. Sally knows me bet­ter than I know my­self some­times.

‘‘When I’m a bit stressed or some­thing, she’ll just say, ‘Don’t you do that, I’ll do that,’ and she takes over.’’

Mrs Shanks said it was a twoway street.

‘‘We re­ally sup­port one an­other.’’

Mrs Hill has spent her en­tire 43­year ca­reer teach­ing maths at Taieri Col­lege and rose to be­come the head of the depart­ment in 1990.

Mrs Shanks started out as a pri­mary teacher but re­trained in cal­cu­lus and statis­tics, and has spent the past 37 years teach­ing along­side Mrs Hill in the maths depart­ment at Taieri Col­lege.

Why stay so long?

Mrs Hill an­swered, ‘‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’’

Both planned to spend more time with fam­ily in their re­tire­ment.

While Mrs Shanks said she would go ‘‘cold turkey’’ and never re­turn to teach­ing, Mrs Hill said she would do some re­liev­ing teach­ing at the school from time to time.

‘‘I would find it re­ally hard to go cold turkey. You deal with about 120 kids a day. I would need my fix of com­pany and to feel I was still con­tribut­ing.’’

One of the most com­plex math­e­mat­i­cal equa­tions they had not yet been able to solve dur­ing their ca­reers was the for­mula for friend­ship.

‘‘We haven’t found that yet. Pi or E­squared might have some­thing to do with it,’’ Mrs Hill joked.

Both said they planned to work on it to­gether in their re­tire­ment.

PHOTO: CHRIS­TINE O’CON­NOR

I’ll be there for you . . . Taieri Col­lege math­e­mat­ics teach­ers Gwenda Hill (left) and Sally Shanks will re­tire next week, af­ter com­bined ca­reers of 80 years at the school.

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