Thursday, February 2, 2017
Familiar Face: Miss Annie
Annie Finlayson is well known to many people in this area as she has been teaching at Aidanfield Christian School for twenty years. She has also taught in several other schools in Invercargill, Dunedin and Christchurch accruing a total of forty five years unbroken teaching experience. Incredibly, she has never lost passion for her job. Her smiling face is testament to the joy she feels and after all this time, she still has the knack of making new students and their families feel incredibly important. Being very much appreciated by the students, parents and colleagues around her, the recent school drama production of "Annie" was dedicated to her.
"Miss Annie" as she is affectionately called, grew up in Mosgiel, Timaru and had a stint in a Nelson boarding school. Both of her parents valued academic education and Annie can remember "loving everything about school." She vividly recalls observing a teacher taking the attendance register when she was seven and thought "how cool that was." Becoming a teacher was a most natural step for her.
"Supportive" is how Annie describes her teaching style. At the start of the day, she greets the children and tries to get an idea of how the children are feeling. "It makes it easier to start the day on a positive note and the children go with it." From there, she "tries to get the important stuff done: numeracy and literacy." Her manner is confirmed by present-day students who say "when Miss Annie tells you off, you don't feel angry; you feel sad because you have disappointed her and you decide not to it again." Other students describe her as "gentle, kind and understanding." Annie simply says " She loves kids, and that teaching is the only job that she has ever wanted to do."
Favourite memories for Annie include the children's successes, their eureka moments, a the day to day learning. Annie reminisces: "the five year old who came into the class yelling 'I can write my name!'; the shy smiles of children when they realize they can do this; the classmates who reach out and say 'come into my group' and the parents who are overwhelmed with whether their wee treasures' learning is secure or not, and need encouragement that it is not over yet." Many students have stayed in touch and Annie has enjoyed hearing of the birthdays, weddings and new babies of her ex-pupils. Similarly, meeting former students in the community who still recognise her has also been a highlight.
Often central to Annie's thoughts and conversation is her own family: son James, daughter-in-law Jo and grandchildren Maia, Nico and Cooper. Annie "Being a grandmother is amazing and always a joy. They are my precious treasures," effuses Annie. Spending more time with them, as well as going shopping and drinking coffee with friends is what she looks forward to.
Annie is leaving behind a wonderful positive legacy of teaching and relationships. Fortunately, Aidanfield won't lose her completely, as she will most likely be back as a relief teacher.