Long-serving Terrace Primary School principal Garry Anderson does not want to make a fuss of his retirement, but he could not avoid the limelight at his farewell assembly on Friday.
He was piped in to the assembly, was then the guest of a “This is your life” school performance, had more than 100 pupils in the school kapa haka group perform in his honour, was transported around at one stage in a golf cart and finally watched a kowhai grove being planted in his name.
Family members including his two sons, eldest grandson and eldest brother attended the ceremony and it was a humbling experience that brought home the significance of the “Terrace family” he had helped foster, Mr Anderson said.
“It was very emotional. I knew it was going to be something like that, because I had seen how much they did for my wife, Glenys, when she retired [from Terrace] last year. But to actually see what they did for me, it was quite something.”
Mr Anderson has been the principal of Terrace for 25 years, and said throughout his journey the school had been “an exciting place to be, and it still is”.
He began his teaching career at Kaitangata, carried on to Mataura School and secured his first position as principal of Mataura Island School aged just 24, as a sole-charge principal-teacher.
A position as principal at Riversdale School followed and he came to Terrace as its new principal aged 38. His wife was “part of it all”, and they enjoyed teaching together. Mrs Anderson also secured senior positions and retired last year as assistant principal and respected long-serving new entrant teacher at Terrace.
During his time at Terrace the school’s roll had doubled from 200 to 400, but Mr Anderson said it was difficult to pinpoint individual milestones that gave him particular pride.
Rather, it was “about lots of things” and the gradual evolution of the school, which allowed children to grow through positive relationships. Manners were also important, and Mr Anderson believed them to be an important indicator of other areas in a child’s life.
As well as his time at the Terrace, Mr Anderson has had an extensive involvement in sport, particularly with softball, in which he played, coached and mentored.
He said he was proud of it all, satisfied with the “lovely journey” of his career.
He said it was the “right time” to retire. Both he and his wife had “completely recovered” from recent health scares, but they had served as a “reminder” that “you can’t have everything”.
Mr Anderson said he and his wife had both enjoyed long, fulfilling careers in the education system and were now ready to spend more time with their family.