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Shaping young minds . . . Millers Flat School teacher Lorna Skevington (pictured with her class) retires at the end of this week after 21 years' teaching at the school. She was given a community pot luck tea and a special presentation at the school assembly. PHOTO: YVONNE O'HARA

YVONNE O’HARA

yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz

From hand-written reports to digital lesson plans and bee-bots, Lorna Skevington has seen major changes in the way pupils are taught at primary schools during the past two decades.

Mrs Skevington retires from teaching this week after 21 years of guiding hundreds of young children through their first years in the education system at Millers Flat School.

She was given a community pot luck tea on June 28 and there was a special assembly at school for her.

She said learning and teaching styles had changed in the past two decades.

Instead of the more rigid, teacher-led style of learning, children are now encouraged to take part in inquiry learning, which means they choose their own directions, within recommended guidelines and outcomes.

“The older kids love it, as they can choose the tasks they want,” she said.

“It is all about self management for behaviour and learning, giving them a choice rather than you making it for them.”

In addition, there is an increasing emphasis on digital learning as the children discover coding and robotics.

Mrs Skevington has been at Millers Flat School since 1998.

She was born at the Roxburgh maternity home to Millers Flat parents.

Her father was the local school bus driver, mailman and taxi driver.

Before attending teacher training college in Dunedin in the early 1970s she waivered between teaching and nursing.

“I remember as a kid playing with my dolls and holding teaching sessions for them,” she said.

Following the completion of her training, she taught at a school in South Auckland for two years.

While back in Millers Flat for the holidays she met Roger Skevington and decided to look for a position closer to home.

She moved to a four-class school in Duntroon, near Oamaru, and then taught at Wilden School.

She was there for three years but by 1979 was pregnant with twins Richard and Teressa and resigned from Wilden.

She had daughter Tamara in 1981.

When the children were older she was asked to be a relieving teacher and spent 12 years helping at Roxburgh Area School and Millers Flat school.

“I started thinking it would be nice to have a class of my own again, and then I got this job at Millers Flat in 1998 as the junior teacher,” she said.

Since then she has taught the new entrants and the 0-3 year group.

“Teaching is a juggling act, as you have got to cater for the little ones and keep an eye on everybody.”

Once retired, she intends to spend more time with her husband as well as in her garden.

She also wants to spend more time with their five grandchildren.

“We have them most school holidays and I would love to see them more often,” she said.