Chris Collins has been in the business of early childhood teaching for a long time.
After 27 years at Hibiscus Coast Kindergarten, the head teacher from Orewa is retiring.
A keen traveller, Chris is more surprised than anyone she's managed to stay in one place so long.
She has lived in Orewa for about 35 years, but previously moved around the country and spent several years overseas.
Her two children kept her busy when she first moved to the Hibiscus Coast, and she worked as a relief teacher for the North Auckland Kindergarten Association.
Although she's "coming up to the retirement birthday", for Chris it's more a "lifestyle change".
"I'll hopefully be living a full and busy life.
"I've got plans to touch base with friends overseas and do a bit of travelling," she says.
Travel is nothing new, having spent three years in Papua New Guinea when she got married and worked on a children's programme on an ocean liner.
"I have seen a lot of the world but there's always more to see."
Chris has also taught young children around the country, including the Bay of Plenty.
In addition to reviving the travel bug, she is also hoping to carry on having lots of fun closer to home.
"I love my bodyboarding and going to the beach," she says.
"I'm looking forward to having more time and energy for my family and friends, and fun.
She says she will miss the children who gave her a buzz every day.
The 27 years at Hibiscus Coast Kindergarten hold memories that will stick the longest.
She only left once, to carry out a diploma in early intervention at the University of Auckland in 1994, but the kindergarten was all too happy to keep the door open for her when she finished.
Her last day is February 28, but first off there is a farewell picnic on February 21 at the Hibiscus Coast Kindergarten, 88 Riverside Rd.
Everybody's welcome from 5.30pm, so bring your own picnic, refreshments and a rug.
There is sure to be no shortage of takers for that invitation. In some cases, Chris has taught two generations of the same family at the kindergarten.
"The advantage of staying in your own community for a long time is I've had some very young mums and dads come back with their children," she says.
That means she is known in many parts of the Hibiscus Coast.
Having such a familiar face means it can take a while to get her shopping done in the supermarket, where she is usually recognised by someone, including the kindy children.
Now a grandmother, the longest serving teacher at the kindergarten will stay involved with the Rotary Club of Orewa.
The club has also been "tremendously supportive" of the kindergarten for the past 10 years, she says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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