Mary to 'graduate' into retirement

If it wasn't for the paperwork and a pair of bad knees Mary Barron says she would be far from retirement.

After more than 30 years in the classroom, the 62-year-old has called it a day to focus on her health and spend more time with the grandkids.

"Other than that, I think I'll probably still do a bit of relieving because I don't think I can just hang up 25 years in a row of teaching," she said.

"If you times 30 years by 30 students you get a lot of kids. "

Mrs Barron's only break from the profession came when she spent 13 years "milking blimmen cows" - a task she probably brought on herself.

"When I was a kid I used to always say I was going to teach children and marry a farmer. They were my two goals, and I've achieved them both."

It's not only 196 days of unused sick leave and the kids at Puketapu School she will leave behind when she departs, but a special bond she has shared with principal Mike "Mr J" Johnson for more than 20 years.

Early on in their careers the pair taught together at Pungarehu, before moving to Rahotu Primary, and reuniting again at Puketapu.

"The connection with Mike has been really good. He's a person where if a change came into the school you didn't just moan about it. You actually tried it, and then you moaned," she laughed.

"That has actually stood me in good stead over the years."

Directing school productions and going on camps are the fondest memories Mrs Barron has of her teaching days.

She directed 16 school productions in total, and of those she wrote nine.

"I've absolutely loved the productions. From the start, right through the absolute chaos, to actually achieving a production at the end. The kids gained a lot of confidence from those."

Mrs Barron has taught all primary school-age groups and said her time with year 7 and 8 students had made it exceptionally hard to leave.

"I love seeing them emerge into adults.

"The year 7 and 8s are so loyal to you and there's so many changes going on in the two years that you teach them - with moods and all."

Her bond with them was so strong, they'd even asked her to "graduate" alongside them next Tuesday.

"That's pretty neat. I've loved every minute of teaching them."

Taranaki Daily News