Inspiring teachers remembered

23:13, Feb 18 2014

Some teachers you remember more than others.

And the inaugural Festivals of Education want to acknowledge those teachers who have had the greatest impact on our lives.

InspiredbyU is being launched as part of the inaugural Festivals of Education being held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in March.

shane archbold
CYCLIST: Shane Archbold

Using virtual postcards, thousands of New Zealanders will have the opportunity to share the story of the teacher that had the biggest impact on their lives.

Prime Minister John Key was among the first to share his InspiredbyU story, writing an oversize postcard to his former teacher - Rob Hughes - who taught him economics at Burnside High School, and who still teaches economics at the same school today.

In the postcard, he writes: "Dear Rob, I was inspired by you because you had a love, passion, and great knowledge of economics. You added to my desire to make a difference to New Zealand."


janie annear
FORMER MAYOR: Janie Annear

Education Minister Hekia Parata added her "inspiring teacher" story to the launch, identifying Mrs Patricia Fitzpatrick, who taught Ms Parata and many of her siblings at Ngata Memorial College in Ruatoria.

Ms Parata writes: "I was inspired by you because you: Encouraged my LOVE of reading, broadened my taste in literature, bolstered my confidence when other kids thought it was pretty nerdy and you were big on "big words" (though not bureaucratic ones!)."

Members of the public are invited to create their own digital postcards, sharing their teacher story online, at

We asked some of our South Canterbury achievers to tell us about their favourite teacher memories.

■ From Timaru to Tokyo, entertainer Mika is on top of the performing arts world.

He has spent three decades working on stage, film, television, fashion and music all over the world.

During his time at Marchwiel Primary School, Wattlington Intermediate and Timaru Boys' High School, Mika said he had many fantastic teachers who were encouraging of his singing and acting.

Many of his teachers were very supportive of his aspiration to become a performing artist, which according to him was quite radical in the 1970s.

However, he said the most inspiring thing he can think of was the support he got from Timaru Boys' teacher Bruce Leadley and rector Raymond Welch, when he came out as gay.

He said as a "brown, gay track and field disco champion", it meant a lot to have them backing him and said it was pretty life-changing.

"I can't imagine what it would have been like not to have that support."

He said he was always very confident and didn't get bullied all that much but can remember Mr Leadley telling off a group of guys who were joking around, giving him a hard time.

Whenever he returns home to Timaru and performs he said many of his old teachers come along to the shows, but they are often too shy to say hello.

"Which is really annoying - come and say hello," said Mika.

■ Janie Annear's high school biology teacher knew there was more to the teenager than the troublesome girl always referred to her for detention.

Ask Timaru's former mayor which teacher had the greatest impact on her, and Mrs Annear instantly nominates Marj Frengley, her form dean and biology teacher at Kaikorai Valley High School in Dunedin.

"I struggled to find the subject scintillating. We had to copy down notes from the board and I considered that a waste of my valuable time.

"I was not known for good behaviour and spent a little, actually a lot, of time in detention."

Then one day the long-suffering teacher told the student she had a lot of potential and great leadership qualities - if only she could stay out of trouble.

"I was quite shocked that she would say that, that she believed in me," Mrs Annear said, admitting she was really only happy at high school when she was playing sport or in a phys ed class.

Those words did have an impact on the student who described herself as a struggling fifth former.

And Mrs Frengley proved to be a good judge of character considering she recognised in the teenager the leadership qualities which would later be to the fore in the Timaru District Council chamber for 18 years.

■ Olympic track rider Shane Archbold, also known as the flying mullet, went right back to his first year at school to recall his first teacher.

The memory of Marguerite Lawrie's hugs has stuck with Mr Archbold since he was 5 years old. He said he could remember being comforted and getting hugs from her during his first year at Grantlea Downs Primary School.

Up until recently Mrs Lawrie still taught at the school and Mr Archbold kept in touch with her as she lives around the corner from him.

"I hope she's proud of me, but she's probably taught a lot of people she's proud of."

He said at school he was always more into sport than the academic side and is thankful his sports career has worked out.

The 25-year-old recently smashed a 7-year-old record to take fastest time in the Hoskin Cup, held by the St Andrews Cycling Club.

He is also one of three South Cantabrians to be named in the squad for next month's UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Colombia.

He previously won a silver medal in the omnium at the world champs in 2011. At the London 2012 Olympics he placed sixth in the omnium cycling event.

South Canterbury