Staff farewells

We recently farewelled several staff.

Susan Bennett

Susan Bennett has had a long association with Riccarton High School, wearing many different hats: teacher, student, parent and PTA member. Susan was a student of Riccarton High, as were her two children who have also attended. She first taught at RHS in 1985 for a term in her first year of teaching, and later returned to teach Mathematics here since 2004. Over this time, she has worked under three principals and three Heads of Mathematics, and she has seen many changes in the life of the School.

Susan has enjoyed her work with the Parent Teachers’ Association over the last 15 years, which has allowed her to meet parents in an informal setting and talk with them about their students and school life. She also managed the Girls’ Cricket team. Susan’s passion has always been working with students and her highlight has been seeing them achieve when they didn’t think that they could. She will miss the students, the excellent access to the library, the PTA and the friends that she has made along the way.

Anne Jacques

Anne Jacques began teaching at Riccarton High School in August 1995, initially as a German and Japanese teacher. In her 26 years here, she has also taught French and Maths, and has been Leader of Learning of the Languages Faculty since it became its own curriculum area in 2008. She has seen the Faculty grow from 2.3 teaching positions where ESOL was taught by the Reading Teacher to 11.5 positions of French, Japanese, Te Reo and ESOL, as well as language assistants. She is proud to have been part of a Faculty with strong, vibrant language programs. Part of the excitement has been the 15 tours that Anne has taken to France and Japan - at three weeks apiece, she has spent 45 weeks overseas with Riccarton students!

During her time at Riccarton, Anne has been grateful to have been surrounded by wonderful students and colleagues. She reflected that her “wee bunnies” are no longer the passive learners they were when she began teaching, and she is pleased to see that learners are now taking an active interest in engaging with the world around them and demanding that they be taught in ways that suit them better.

Anne has been involved in Kaupapa Māori and the Bicultural Committee, and she is pleased to see the way in which Riccarton has made progress in involving mana whenua and developing our bicultural understanding. Our staff are keen to build capacity, and she is delighted that marae visits, student hui, student-led Mana Toroa and whānau hui are now all regular features of life at RHS.

Anne will miss running the Staff Raffle, as well as being responsible for javelin on Gala Day; she is very proud of her record of 25 separate Gala Days where not one student or staff member was harmed! She will also miss the regular jellybeans, but most of all, it is the people - he tangata - that have made her time at Riccarton so memorable. She said that she has truly enjoyed her work here: “You only stay 26 years somewhere if you are spineless or having fun, and I have been both”.

Kim Henry

Kim Henry leaves us at the end of 2020 to take up a Leader of Learning of Mathematics at Marion College. She has been Assistant Head of Maths for the last three years at Riccarton, and has loved the amazing students, the warm and friendly environment, and the super supportive Maths Department. A highlight of her time here has been running the Maths Competitions, which posed a new challenge this year when they had to be done online due to Covid-19! She wishes everyone all the very best for the future.

Angela Bland

Angela Bland began teaching English to speakers of other languages at Riccarton High School at the start of 2009. Her initial goal was to develop an Intensive English programme for students who had recently arrived in New Zealand, and she has since seen the department grow substantially.

Angela has enjoyed gradually making changes despite the obstacles and barriers along the way, and is passionate about developing community engagement. She has been very involved with our Pasifika learners, beginning with the Home-School Partnership in 2010 and introducing Pasifika Studies in 2015. Angela helped to build the vision of community engagement in our Kura with the establishment of a Cultural Diversity Facilitator role.

Angela leaves us to focus on her family and explore new opportunities, as well as to finish off her doctoral studies on “The Implementation of a Junior Samoan Language Programme within a South Island Context” through the University of Canterbury.

Margaret Butler

Riccarton High School 1990-2019

For 20 years, H7 was the platform for Margaret Butler to enthuse, instruct and entertain her students in the art and craft of English.

Margaret would always challenge her students. She was not a spoon feeder. She expected everyone to think for themselves, to come up with their own answers from thinking. While some students found this hard work, for those who were prepared to think, the end result was a mind better developed and able to progress in life.

She would enthuse about the content of her classes. Whether it be a novel, a poem, a play, a film, a short story, what she chose would be presented in all its glory. Former students will recall her praise for ‘King Lear’, her revelling in ‘Thelma and Louise’, her unpacking of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, her empathy with the War Poets as they showed the evils of World War 1.

Margaret would not suffer fools gladly and there were boys and girls who crossed her clear lines and ended up slightly embarrassed when she hauled them into line. They would tend to cross those lines only once. But, her magnetism as a personality meant that she was a favourite teacher who got results when exam time came around. One of her students had the top mark in Bursary in New Zealand in the 90s and is now a successful diplomat.

Out of the classroom she ran a debating group when interschool debating was to the fore and provided an outlet for the thinkers and speakers, especially seniors.

Gala Sports Day saw Margaret broadcasting to the world. Behind the microphone she informed the spectators and Upper Riccarton, loudly, of what was happening on the sports field. It was not just information, but she encouraged participation and school spirit as the athletes and the gala events took place.

She was a check marker for Level 1 English for several years for NZQA, bringing her detailed marking skills for the sake of the wider community. She was a deadly accurate marker.

Margaret was the producer of a decade of drama events. It was she who managed the money, the hall set up, the staff involved in all the aspects of a production, allowing the directors to concentrate on what went on, on stage.

She was staff representative on the Board of Trustees for 3 years.

One of her skills in the staffroom was an end of term poem in which she gently took on aspects of the staff performance inside and outside their classrooms. Several years ago she stopped these performances when she claimed she was poemed out!

When the New Zealand English Teachers came to Christchurch on two occasions for their annual conference, Margaret was the Secretary and held the organisation of the conference together in her inimitable way.

When an Assistant Principal went to do other things, Margaret filled the role, working with the Deputy Principal and Principal. Her methodical approach to her work meant that the job was done well.

She had two spells as Dean of the year group, a position she loved, and she protected her students like a mother duck, making sure they were on the straight and narrow and that they were being treated fairly by other staff. She did not quite finish her second term as Dean because she became Head of English.

Ten years ago she became Head of English after 15 years of managing various aspects of the Department. With her knowledge of the curriculum and her knowledge of the staff and students she had a positive experience managing this important Department.

Thank you, Margaret, for all your work. We are missing you.