50 years of memories

(Back, from left) Grasmere Kindergarten teacher Tracey Harris, former teachers Elaine McCrone and Megan Pearson with children (front, from left) Lyla Wilton (3), Benny Smith (3), Tane Timu (4), and Beauden McLaren (3) celebrate the kindergarten's 50th birthday on Monday.

LITTLE fingers just wanted to scoop up the icing on top of the cake at Grasmere Kindergarten’s 50th celebrations in Invercargill on Monday.

They managed to hold off, with some encouragement from the teachers, while candles were lit, Happy Birthday was sung and a photo was taken, with the cake then whipped away to cut up for their morning tea.

At the celebrations was Elaine McCrone, who had taught at the kindergarten for 34 years, before leaving about eight years ago.

So much had changed in the years she had worked there, with morning and afternoon sessions changing to one session per day, as well as the roll and allocation of teachers also increasing.

However the environment had not.

“It’s just exactly the same – it feels the same.”

Two of her former pupils, Grasmere Kindergarten teacher Tracey Harris and former teacher Megan Pearson, were also there to celebrate.

For Mrs Pearson, the return to the kindergarten was quite emotional, as she missed teaching children in her job as part of the Ministry of Education behavioural team.

She had fond memories of Mrs McCrone who had taught her and her children, as well as the environment in which she had attended as a preschooler and had taught at.

“The tree and everything is the same.”

“I always had a feeling that I belonged here, it’s just the feeling when you walked through the gate that someone loved me.”

While children would not always remember it was the kindergarten teachers who taught them to count, to write their name and wipe their bottom, the children would always remember the feeling they belonged somewhere safe and secure and that someone loved them, she said.

What both loved most about the kindergarten were the children and their extended families and the sense of community the kindergarten had continued to develop throughout the years.