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Bold and bright farewell: Jensine Jepsen-Krogh has retired after teaching at Monrad Intermediate since 1981. With her are some of her pupils with their wearable art creations, from left, Brittany Tyler-
Whiteman, 12, Erin L'Huillier Millar, 13, Cindy Liu, 13, Nikita Taylor, 12, and Lucy Bleakley, 12.
Photo: ROBERT KITCHIN
Teacher put the art in heart
By JUDITH LACY
The principal was so desperate for a
relieving teacher he resorted to asking
the pupils if they knew of anyone who
could teach the next day.
Jensine Jepsen-Krogh's daughter, Debbie,
knew someone -- her mother.
Our school wants you to teach tomorrow,''
Debbie said when she got home from College
Street Normal School that day.
I told them you were a teacher and you will
Mrs Jepsen-Krogh had been out of the
classroom for 14 years raising her four chil-
dren. When she decided to return to work
after her marriage broke up she lacked the
confidence to resume teaching. The Depart-
ment of Labour suggested photo finishing,
managing a coffee bar or another unrelated
occupation she cannot remember.
She was working as a photo finisher the
fateful day Debbie came home. Mrs Jepsen-
Krogh spoke to her boss who said she could do
the day's relieving.
I can remember thinking, oh dear, how am
I going to fill in a day?'. The children lined up
and it was like I had never left.''
Principal Alan Howley walked in 10
minutes after school started and Mrs Jepsen-
Krogh told him it was like she had never been
While some children hate having their
mother teaching in the same school, her chil-
dren seemed to embrace it -- maybe because
their friends were familiar with their mum, as
their house was the hangout house.
Her son was keen for her to relieve at Palm-
erston North Intermediate Normal, where he
went to school.
She got a job at Intermediate Normal teach-
ing special needs children and then craft.
Mrs Jepsen-Krogh trained at the
very lively, vibrant'' Wellington
Teachers College in 1959 and
Due to a shortage of teachers, trainees were
encouraged not to do university study and go
straight into the classroom.
She was 19 when she stood in front of her
first class at Levin.
I was terrified of [the pupils'] parents,
absolutely fearful, because I was so young,''
she said. They would come and ask you for
advice and I would think you probably know
more than I do'.''
Thirty pupils was the maximum class size
for a first-year teacher, but after a visit from
a school inspector she was given approval to
have up to 39 kids.
After Levin, she moved to Palmerston
North and taught at Queen Elizabeth College
before starting a family.
Mrs Jepsen-Krogh started at Monrad in
1981 as a classroom teacher and apart from
two terms in 1983 has been there ever since.
She was appointed art teacher in 1983.
Like her return to teaching, becoming an
art teacher was a bit of an accident. She had
done a lot of art with her special needs
students and when Intermediate Normal
could not find a metalwork teacher, principal
Johan Bonnevie encouraged her to pick up art
Mrs Jepsen-Krogh said when she first
started teaching art the Ministry of Education
really promoted art'' and there was a budget
There was a strong emphasis on craft.
Pupils would do lino cutting, screen print-
ing, pumice sculpture, weaving. But
Tomorrow's Schools saw the end of the ware-
house teachers ordered supplies from.
The art curriculum has also changed, with
less focus on craft and a move to the artist
model and observation drawing.
The number of hours in front of an art
teacher have also been reduced, with dance,
music and other activities added to the
Children have not changed during all
her years of teaching.
Kids are the same, they really are.''
She remembers a 1.8-metre tall boy
with a tummy ache.
He burst into tears, my tummy is sore'. I
thought you are six feet tall and you are still
11'. All the emotions were the same, he was
She learnt the children might be tall, big
and physically strong as some were several
decades ago, sons and daughters of manual
labourers, but they were still only 11.
These are just little kids. Don't look at the
height, don't look at the size. This is just a
little boy or a little girl.''
Mrs Jepsen-Krogh said it was time to retire,
though she hoped to do some relieving.
Like most teachers she put in a lot of hours
of her own time.
That is a very big part of teaching, it's
certainly not just during the day.''
Children would come in during the weekend
to work on their wearable art entries for the
Mrs Jepsen-Krogh sent children's art work
off to the Ministry of Education, Education
Review Office and College of Education for it
to be displayed. She was involved in the Palm-
erston North children's art exhibitions and
Pacific Island dance groups, and coached girls'
hockey for many years.
She will spend her extra time with her chil-
dren and nine grandchildren and will be able
to attend their functions and visit them rather
than the other way around.
Joys of teaching Monrad
One of Jensine Jepsen-Krogh's more
famous pupils was astrophysicist Matthew
In her first year at Monrad she took Mat-
thew and his class to the observatory where
he was run away'' with excitment.
One of the things Mrs Jepsen-Krogh has
enjoyed about Monrad is the broad spec-
trum of abilities she has taught.
In the same class as Matthew she had a
girl, an absolute delight'', who when set an
assignment to write instructions how to
make scones, submitted just follow the
recipe''. It was the girl's longest essay.
I nearly gave her full marks that day
because normally you couldn't get anything
out of her.''
Being 11 and 12 are important times in a
child's life with hormonal changes.
The girls notice the boys but they are
very much mismatched at an intermediate.
The girls are a couple of years ahead of
The one or two boys who are becoming
more aware of girls often have eight
girlfriends each, Mrs Jepsen-Krogh said.
Children love to know they can do.
I've found that one of the most valuable
resources is always focus on what they are
doing well, what they can do.
That is probably the biggest motivator of
As a teacher she has been big on routine
and children caring for materials. The lat-
ter probably harks back to her first day at
school in Greytown.
Mrs Jepsen-Krogh could not believe she
had arrived in such a fantastic place'' with
books, blackboard, Wendy house, paints.
There was everything, absolutely every-
She said to the teacher she was going to
be a teacher when she grew up because she
would have all this''.
You will have to work hard,'' the practi-
cal teacher replied.
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