Support beyond the classroom walls from Marlborough's favourite teacher Robyn Anderson

Whitney Street School teacher Robyn Anderson, centre, was nominated for a Favourite Teacher Award by Blenheim woman ...
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Whitney Street School teacher Robyn Anderson, centre, was nominated for a Favourite Teacher Award by Blenheim woman Helen Winstanley for her unwavering kindness to grandson Dylan Andrews, 10.

FAVOURITE TEACHER AWARDS: From the Christchurch quake tragedy to Parliament's select committees, we're travelling the country to meet some of New Zealand's best teachers.

Smiling at the shy boy who first came into her life three years ago, primary school teacher Robyn Anderson is not bashful about saying how much he means to her.

Dylan Andrews was 7-years-old when the pair first met and she took him under her wing. With a speech impediment and troubles at home, Dylan was in desperate need of the support he got at Whitney Street School, in Blenheim, particularly from his year 3 teacher.

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It is a bond that has proven unbreakable.

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His grandmother, Helen Winstanley, was so grateful for Anderson's unwavering kindness and help that she knew she had to nominate her for the Favourite Teacher Awards.

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"It was a hard year for everyone at home and Robyn's encouragement and empathy helped Dylan feel comfortable," Winstanley said. "His father suffered some mental health issues and was away from home. She understood why Dylan might be a bit tearful at times and has been there for him ever since." 

Today, Anderson was named the Marlborough winner of the Favourite Teacher Awards, a partnership between Stuff, TVNZ Breakfast and Matilda, the Musical. The overall winner will be named on Sunday.

Dylan, 10, is now in year 8 and thriving under the care of the school. He is no longer in Anderson's class but the connection between the two remains strong.

Whitney Street School teacher Robyn Anderson, left, was nomimated by Helen Winstanley for making a difference in her ...
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Whitney Street School teacher Robyn Anderson, left, was nomimated by Helen Winstanley for making a difference in her grandson's life.

Anderson even watches Dylan play rugby in her free time.

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Winstanley is resolute that the help her grandson got from Anderson has made a "big difference" in his life.

"When I first read about the awards, Robyn immediately came to mind.

"She's compassionate and understanding and couldn't have done more, not just for Dylan, but for our family and I'll be forever grateful," she said.

When out in the playground or walking through school, Anderson keeps a look out for Dylan and the pair catch up most days.

Anderson says she is "proud" to have been nominated but does not believe she does any more than other teachers at the close-knit school. However, she is "especially proud" of Dylan.

"At Whitney Street School we care for all our children but I always make a point of catching up with Dylan and we have a bit of a chat and he talks things through with me.

"Our children are all special but occasionally you find one that you have more of a connection with. Dylan's very special to me and I'd like to think that we will also keep in touch," she said.

FAVOURITE TEACHER AWARDS REGIONAL WINNERS

Northland: Jenny Bassett
Auckland: Bex Rose
Bay of Plenty: Scott Feisst
Waikato: Richard Lloyd
Hawkes Bay/East Cape: Janene Maloney​
Taranaki: Sue Gunn
​Manawatu/Whanganui: Heidi Lutz
Wellington: Matt Johnston
Nelson: Trina Wilkinson
Marlborough: Robyn Anderson
Canterbury/West Coast: Carmen Street
​South Canterbury/Otago: Di Anderson
Southland: Elaine Forde

 - Sunday Star Times

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