Fond memories of 44 years

Fiordland Kindergarten teacher Claire Maley-Shaw planted two kowhai trees propagated from seeds collected by children from the Kindergarten kowhai tree, during her farewell ceremony, at Ivon Wilson Park, Te Anau, last Wednesday.

CLAIRE Maley-Shaw will miss the snuggles, questions and excited voices of her Fiordland Kindergarten pupils.

Mrs Maley-Shaw retired from her role last Wednesday, after 44 years of teaching at the Te Anau kindergarten.

‘‘I think my garden is calling me and it’s time to slow down.’’

At the age of 16, she trained as a teacher at the Kindergarten Teachers College in Dunedin in 1973.

‘‘In those times, you were guaranteed a position when you graduated. I didn’t obtain a permanent position straight away, so was placed as an extra teacher [supernumerary] at
Bluff Kindergarten.’’

She worked in Bluff for a year before being offered stints at Newfield, Waverly and Lindisfarne kindergartens in Invercargill.

After her 21st birthday in 1978, she was offered a job in Te Anau.

So, in her Humber ’80s car, she made the move from Greenhills, near Invercargill.

She was grateful for senior teachers who helped support her throughout the years.

‘‘I have been fortunate to teach with some amazing teachers who have all brought their knowledge and skills to the kindergarten programme, who didn’t flinch too much when I said, ‘I have been thinking, what do you think?’.’’

One of her proudest achievements while teaching at the kindergarten included starting the outdoor programme Nature Discovery in 2009.

The programme encouraged children to explore nature and connect with the environment through creative play.

Through the initiative she was interviewed on national radio, broadcast on television, featured in several publications, spoken at several conventions, and run workshops.

She also wrote a book on the programme which was published with the help of Kindergartens South.

‘‘To my delight, it has snowballed around the country,’’ Mrs Maley-Shaw said.

She was able to integrate her passion for teaching and gardening which was shown through her efforts with Ivon Wilson Park, she said.

‘‘With the children, we have propagated hundreds of native trees over the years, giving them away to families and visitors and making our own native forest at Ivon Wilson Park.’’

She was awarded the National Leadership in Teaching Award at Parliament in 2010.

The preschool would always hold a special place in her heart, she said.

‘‘Fiordland Kindergarten has some of my soul in its walls. I have loved working in such a beautiful place with such a supportive community.

‘‘It has been a privilege to work with and then watch the many children I have taught grow into beautiful adults.’’

She was known as ‘‘kindergarten nanni’’ as she was able to teach some of her former pupils’ children and in one case, a third-generation child.

‘‘It has been a privilege to work with and then watch the many children I have taught grow into beautiful adults.

‘‘Thank you to all that have helped me along the way and most of all thank you to all the children who I have had the pleasure to teach,’’ Mrs Maley-Shaw said.