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YOUR WINDOW TO THE COMMUNITY
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2011
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Teacher always put children first
Farewell, Mrs Duncan: Hilary Duncan's year 1 and 2 pupils at Central Normal
School give her a send-off to remember.
Photo: WARWICK SMITH
By JUDITH LACY
Children are born with wings,
teachers help them fly,'' a poster in
Hilary Duncan's class says.
And Mrs Duncan has done a lot of
flight training in her career, a
career vastly different to corsetiere,
the back-up option suggested by the
school careers adviser.
She retires from teaching on
December 15, the majority of her
career having been at Central Nor-
I've loved it here. I've loved all
my years teaching. It's really neat
when you catch up with those chil-
dren you have taught.''
She started at Central Normal in
1979 and, apart from one year at
Awapuni, has been there since.
Over the decades she has seen
many changes including the main-
streaming of children with special
needs, the growth of bilingual
classes and fewer men teaching.
She has worked with three
principals and several deputy and
The caring and supportive culture
among staff has remained the same.
Your problem is their problem.''
Children have changed as society
has changed and become more
worldly but less active.
She has had to learn new disci-
pline and teaching techniques.
Nowadays teachers are not the
fount of all knowledge -- the focus is
on inquiry learning with the chil-
dren searching for answers.
She has been a team leader but
did not want to be a principal,
instead preferring to be in the class-
room with constant contact with
The 66-year-old was not sure she
was going to retire this year but a
motivating factor was her husband
Graeme retiring a month ago. She
hopes to do some relieving or part-
I'll have withdrawal symptoms
for sure, I'll be terrible.''
Growing up in Hawera, young
Hilary loved school where she had
I used to look up to them, I would
idolise my teachers.''
Being a teacher was her only
career goal, but her school careers
adviser thought she needed a back-
up plan in case she was not accepted
into Palmerston North Teachers'
College. The adviser suggested
being a corsetiere as young Hilary
had strong arms''.
Outside work, Mrs Duncan cer-
tainly has strong legs rising at five
each morning to jog or walk. In
retirement she will continue
volunteering at Arohanui Hospice
and her involvement with All Saints
Anglican Church. Her granddaugh-
ters live in Wellington and her
grandsons in Switzerland and with
other family also overseas, travel-
ling is on the cards.
Who knows, I might end up
doing something quite different. I
might learn to knit again.''
Her first job out of teachers' col-
lege in 1966 was at Ramanui School
in Hawera where she had 40 chil-
dren. Today she has 26 in her junior
Palmerston North resource
teacher of learning and behaviour
Liz Hickey said Mrs Duncan is an
outstanding and inspirational
teacher'' who has positively impac-
ted children's futures and lives for
Asked why people think highly of
her, Mrs Duncan said she believes
in putting the children -- whom she
loves -- first.
I like to be organised and well
prepared for things, too.''
She has always found it amazing
parents trust their children's edu-
cation to teachers.
I've been lucky to do the job I've
always wanted to do.''
A long cut
Green Santa: Palmerston North's first non-motorised Christmas Parade
has been labelled a success by organisers Destination Manawatu. Santa
and his reindeer sat on top of a couple of modified electric golf carts to
parade around The Square. The parade had 37 floats which were raised
above people's heads and performers on stilts towered over the crowd.
Destination Manawatu chief executive Lance Bickford said he had only
positive feedback from the crowd. He was keen to do the same next year,
and felt it cemented Palmerston North's reputation as an environmentally-
Photo: WARWICK SMITH
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