A love affair with teaching is drawing to a close for Manukau Institute of Technology education school head Dr Lindy Austin.
After more than 50 years as an educator Dr Austin is about to step down and enjoy a well-earned retirement.
She leaves behind a legacy of success, having touched countless lives as a teacher and later as a mentor to education students and staff.
She has helped launch the careers of hundreds of teachers and is proud of each of them.
Dr Austin says she always knew she was meant for teaching. After completing two years at Auckland Teachers College, she began her career in the 1960s at Mountain View Primary School in Mangere.
She diversified into early childhood education while going to Mangere Bridge Playcentre with her children and later changed paths again, gaining qualifications to teach students with a hearing impairment or special needs.
She took up positions at Kelston School for the Deaf and Carlson School for Cerebral Palsy.
Teaching students with special needs came after she and her husband opened their home to foster children. Over the years they fostered 16 children and teenagers.
It was not always easy but very rewarding, she says.
Her love of education is apparent in the range of post-graduate study she has undertaken.
She has three education certificates, four graduate diplomas, a bachelors degree, masters degree and most recently she became a doctor of teaching In 2008.
"I must say it was quite a chuff when I heard myself called Dr Austin for the first time," she says.
After lecturing for 15 years at a tertiary level in Australia she returned to her roots in Auckland.
"I came back because there is nowhere else quite like MIT. I love the cultural and ethnic diversity of the area.
"I love that you can walk a short distance down the street and experience a dozen or more cultures."
There have been many career highlights, she says.
Teaching academic English to Chinese mariners at several Chinese maritime universities was exciting and winning an ANZAC Fellowship in 1984, which allowed her to study fulltime for a year at Mt Gravatt College of Education in Australia, was special.
There could be no greater reward for a woman who has never stopped wanting to learn.
"I was 63 when I got my doctorate. I consider that I'm a good role model for mature students. You are never too old to learn and change your direction in life."
Now comes the next chapter - travelling the world with her husband Noel.
And while Dr Austin is moving on, she retains the greatest of respect for the women and men who devote their lives to education.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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