One of Otaki’s most dedicated teachers has retired from full-time work after a life teaching children.
Pene Ryan said goodbye to Otaki Kindergarten at a farewell function which included flowers and gifts from the children, staff and whanau. Pene says she’s looking for a relaxing change in lifestyle though she will still be available to relieve at Otaki and Levin kindergartens.
Otaki Kindergarten has been Pene’s workplace for the last 15 years. Many of her charges, now adults, will remember Pene as a fun-loving, energetic teacher who always brought a laugh to the job.
She leaves full of terrific memories of keen and enthusiastic children who each brought a natural openness. “I love their spontaneity and honesty,” says Pene.
Pene was a keen supporter of the annual Wheelathon event at Otaki kindergarten which has been running for 15 years. She feels the physical exercise is needed more than ever with children, even at kindergarten level, immersed in the excitement of new technology. “They’ll spend hours in front of screens if we don’t fire up their natural instincts to tear around a bit
Pene’s been teaching all up for 44 years. Her work has taken her to Australia and stints as a kindergarten head teacher.
Are we offering the children as much as when she started all those years ago? “Absolutely. I love the way that children have much more freedom of choice at Kindergarten. They’re not just told to do this and that. They are part of the creative process. You can see the joy on their faces.”
Recent changes, including longer hours at kindergartens for teachers and children, don’t altogether meet with her approval.
She doesn’t think children need to be at kindergarten quite as long as they are now. But she accepts that social changes, including the need to fit in with longer working hours for parents, must be accommodated.
“The important thing is that teachers work alongside parents to achieve the best outcomes,” says Pene. “Parents are the first teachers — we advance that in an environment the children feel loved and safe in.”
“Whanau must also feel at all times welcome to spend time with their children inside the kindergarten walls.”
What’s Pene looking forward to the most in her retirement?
“More time with my husband and my own family and friends.” says Pene. “But on a day-to-day basis I’ll miss the children and the privilege of being their teacher. And it really is a privilege.”
“Oh, and I’d better not forget to say I’ll miss my fellow teachers at Otaki,” Pene quickly adds with that sense of fun she’s known for. “Mind you, I’m sure we’ll Continue To Share The Odd Glass Of Wine And Tell Stories About The Old Days.”