A tribute to Don Wilson
Don started at KingsWay as a teacher in 1997, when sheep wandered the current grounds, and the old Primary buildings were all we had. He brought with him a teaching lineage as his dad was a school Principal, and his interest in seeing people in healthy relationships was reflected by the university studies he undertook in Counselling while in the USA.
Don began teaching Year 7 in the ‘new’ Youngman block, alongside David Lee and Kathy Viljoen. From the outset, Don’s ability to relate well with both students and adults was evident. He had a passion for ensuring that every student felt valued and safe, spending time at the beginning of each year creating such a culture amongst the students in his form classes. He has taught in both the Intermediate and Senior areas of KingsWay School and led the Senior School Social Sciences and Biblical Studies Departments. For the past eight years, Don has served KingsWay as a counsellor and reluctantly took on an acting Head of Counselling role for a year to allow the leadership team time to find the right applicant to replace him.
Over the years, Don has become well-known as a man of great automotive knowledge and passion; the subject of many a classroom and staffroom discussion. This was also put to good use in a pastoral care setting, with model cars adorning his office, becoming the opening talking point that broke the ice with many a troubled student. Don’s enthusiasm in this area led to a highly popular fund-raising activity at one particular KingsWay School gala, where his lovely red Mazda MX5 convertible sportscar was bravely offered up for test pilots to careen around a cordoned off part of the football field! As the years rolled on, workmates began to lose count of the number of Don's ‘pride and joy’ vehicles that adorned the staff car park; the common theme being that they were always immaculate when he brought them, and even better when he sold them.
Don is respected as a godly man of graciousness, integrity and wisdom, with staff being treated to many devotions over the years that were memorable for their spiritual depth and insights. He consistently maintained a high view of the scriptures and outworked in his own life the tension between the human condition and the nature, character, and the sovereignty of God. Don helped lead the school’s move to adopt a restorative practice model. This role was appropriate, given that Don’s life reflects this model, and he has devoted his life to helping people find restoration with each other and God.
Over the last several years, Don has gradually reduced his KingsWay School hours to allow time for other activities. More recently, this has included working for a boutique caravan and motorhome customising workshop, the principal qualification for which, was that Don had already built himself his own caravan in his spare time! His other favourite pastimes have included building a rental cottage next door, annual holidays in Rotorua with Trish, and discovering the joys of becoming a granddad!
Don is truly a legend of KingsWay who will be missed by everyone. I trust that you will take the opportunity in the next few weeks to send him an email of thanks or encouragement as he moves to a life of tinkering with his automotive projects and playing in the sandpit with his granddaughter.
Please find attached as a pdf, Don's farewell message written to KingsWay staff and community.