“The people who teach you the most are the children.”
Heather Greenhill has enjoyed an incredible career in education spanning five decades and crossing three sectors: early learning, primary and secondary. Our conversation was recorded just a few days prior to her retirement at the end of 2020.
Heather’s parents emigrated from England in 1965, first settling in Christchurch where she attended Aranui High School. She remembers from an early age that she wanted to be a teacher and at Aranui, her inspirational maths and geography teachers, Chris Pryor and Catherine Ross, helped to cement this goal further.
Heather began her career as a primary teacher in 1974 at Newton Central, working there and at Richmond Road School for 11 years. Among the many people who encouraged her in these early years were Jim Lawton, her Headmaster at Richmond, and her colleague Raewyn Worstat. Heather then spent five years as a full-time mother, a cherished time which she describes as a “recalibration of what [she] knew about children.” From there, she moved into early childhood education becoming the co-owner and operator of a childcare centre in Albany.
In 2001, after 10 years in the commercial world, Heather began her time at Westlake Boys’, working initially as a reliever before taking on a full-time role as an ESOL teacher in 2002. The transition from ESOL to English was a natural step and over the past fifteen years she has forged an incomparable record of success as a specialist working with challenged and underperforming students. Heather became a Dean in 2004 and an Academic Dean in 2010, mentoring Westlake’s most at-risk students and helping them to realise their academic potential, a perfect complement to her work in the classroom.
More recently, Heather has worked as a Within School Leader for our Kāhui Ako creating targeted resources and materials to help our secondary students develop more effective study habits.
Looking back on her career, Heather feels blessed and full of gratitude for the people she has met, the experiences she has enjoyed and the many opportunities she has grasped.
“There are three things that cannot be taken away from you: experience, education and memories.”