After 29 years at Waikanae Montessori Preschool, head teacher Margaret de Vries will start a well-deserved retirement at the end of this term.

Margaret started teaching at the Seddon St based preschool in term four 1989 in a six week relieving capacity after being asked by Lesleigh Hogg.

"During that time I realised I liked the system of what I was seeing, so when I was invited to stay on, and the school would pay for me to do the Montessori training, I accepted it."

She would soon become head teacher, a role she has held throughout the years.


The preschool, which had six pupils when she started but now has 40, has gone from strength to strength under her stewardship.

"I've been very lucky to have the authority and ability to grow the school, and the trust board has supported me through that."

She was a teacher who had always led by example" and never expected more of anybody than I would do myself".

"I have always wanted to inspire children to reach their own potential."

Margaret praised the preschool staff noting their had been a lot of stability because the teachers who work there all believe in the Montessori philosophy.

She thanked the parents and other members of the community who had given time to improve the preschool.

And she would especially miss the children and thinking of exciting things to teach.

"I just love the children.

"I love their willingness to be guided and their excitement with the skills.

"I celebrate all their lovely stepping stones."

Margaret has been involved in all the teaching programmes but has enjoyed the arts and crafts aspect, and had a special fondness for music and drama.

"I brought that up from nothing at all, to something quite substantial, where children can now sing solos with a microphone on the stage, which is just awesome."

The preschool's annual Christmas concerts as well as annual performances at the Winara Care Home and Parkwood Retirement Village have become a cherished tradition.

Being at the preschool for so long, Margaret sees many adults who were children at the preschool during her time there.

"So many of them put their success in adult life to their start here, which I find is quite complimentary because there's been a lot of water go under the bridge, and a lot of teachers involved in that time since they've left here, but they tell me their time here gave them a respect for learning."

People are invited to attend Margaret's leaving party on July 1 from 2.30pm to 4pm in the St Luke's hall, Waikanae.

One of the attendees will be Lesleigh, who got Margaret the start at the preschool all those years ago.