Mr D says farewell after 41 years at Durie Hill

By Liz Wylie

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Long-serving Durie Hill School teacher Mike Dewson parked his motorhome in the school grounds on Friday - it was his last day.

"Thank you for not messing about with it," he told the students at his final assembly.

He was not to get off so lightly and soon discovered that the vehicle had been decorated with signs, streamers, balloons and class photos spanning his 41 years at the school.

"It has been a difficult decision but I've had the old gold card for a couple of years now and I decided to leave at the end of the term."

Accompanying Mr Dewson on his farewell was his wife, Barbara, who was a young dental nursing student in Ohakune when the couple first met in the 1960s.

"I did my country school placement as a young teacher in Ohakune and then we came back to Whanganui and I taught at Castlecliff, Aranui and Kokohuia schools before I came to Durie Hill," Mr Dewson said.

Working at the same school for 41 years and a term had given him some wonderful memories, and he had met many children whose parents were once in his class.

Dave Hiroti is a Durie Hill parent who once enjoyed being in "Mr D's" class. "He has always been a great teacher who sets everyone up to flourish," he said. "The school has been very lucky to have him for so long."

Mr Dewson said he had good memories of the outdoor education programme he instigated at the school when he started teaching there in 1976.

"The camps at Mangatepopo in Tongariro National Park have always been a highlight of the year and I feel very proud that I can still walk to the top of Tongariro," he said.

Durie Hill students performed a waiata and a haka for Mr Dewson before his Room 1 class escorted him to the "holiday house with wheels", as he describes it, and the rest of the school lined the roadside to wave farewell. Each student had decorated a large paper hand to wave as the van moved off and Mr Dewson tooted a selection of horns he had on board.

"This is farewell but not goodbye," he called as he drove away.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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