Dawn Duncum

Ends long teaching career

We wish to say a special farewell to Dawn Duncum, who is retiring after an amazing 27 years at WIS. Thank you for all your hard work, and dedication to the education of our students.

Below is an article from Paul Brooks, Whanganui Midweek 27/11/19
Photo: Paul Brooks

It has been 27 years since Dawn Duncum took up a teaching position at Whanganui Intermediate School [WIS], but, at the end of this school term, she retires . . . almost.

“I can’t quite believe it myself,” she says, wondering where the years have gone.

Dawn went straight to Teachers’ College on leaving Whanganui High School.

“I did three years and I was going to go back to university for another year but I was offered a job I really wanted, so I took it.”

That took her to Rutherford Intermediate, as it was then.

“I had done two postings there and really liked it.”

David Dale was Rutherford principal. “I was there for 12 years. I progressed from being a newbie to team leader.”

In those days a team leader was in charge of four classes, including their own form class.

“My team here [WIS] is six classes,” she says.

Dawn went on maternity leave from Rutherford, giving birth to daughter Rowena.

“After that I relieved and worked part-time until Rowena turned 5.”

She resumed fulltime teaching at Aramoho School before taking up a position at Tawhero School.

“Then I came here,” she says, looking out over WIS from the first floor staffroom. “I came here as a reliever, initially, then won the job and I’ve been here ever since. That was 1992.”

Dawn’s husband Ross fully retired from teaching at the end of last year, so now the couple want to travel. With Rowena working in radio in Dunedin, the bottom of the South Island is on their itinerary.

The only other firm plan is to go to Germany to catch up with German students who have studied at WIS. “We’re visiting all 10 of them. Most are married and some have children.”

Ross and Dawn also had an AFS “daughter” through Sacred Heart for a year, so they intend to visit her in Switzerland, a trip they’ve made before.

“We have lots to do, but I will possibly still be involved here at WIS in a part-time capacity, doing things like Mathex [a maths competition run by Manawatu¯ Maths Teachers Association], swimming sports and all the things I really love.”

Dawn has also been involved in school theatre productions so she hopes that can continue in one form or another. But she will enjoy time to herself.

As a fulltime teacher she found there was no time to just go for a walk or curl up with a book — a book not on the school reading list.

“There’s always something to mark or things to do.

“I don’t think there is a typical school day because every day is different. I have two different literacy classes — my own and another one from my team — and this year I’ve had one block of ‘release’ a day to do ‘cluster’ stuff; then you might go to the library, or there could be something on at sports.”

The day before we chatted there was a large inter-school athletics event at Cooks Gardens.

Dawn has also had the academic extension students for 17 years, taking care of the intellectual needs of gifted children. “That is my passion. I absolutely love it.”

She will notice some big changes in retirement.

“I always try and work every night so I’d have some free time on the weekends, so not having my computer on my lap until 10pm . . . my life is going to change.”

Dawn finishes on December 20, the last day of the school term, but there will be a formal farewell on December 6.

Paul Brooks
Whanganui Midweek 27/11/19