ANDREWS, Neil R
1976 – 2013
Department: HOD Technology
From the Otago Daily Times
By John Lewis on Wed, 13 Nov 2013
After 37 years at King’s High School, technology teacher Neil Andrew will retire at the end of this year.
When he started out as a builder more than 40 years ago, the last thing he expected to be doing with a hammer and saw during his career was teaching in a secondary school.
But looking back, the 64-year-old said he could not imagine his life any other way.
After 37 years of teaching technology at King’s High School, Mr Andrews has decided to retire and look at some new projects. Mr Andrews came to teaching in 1976 when he found the building profession was in a rut and not paying his bills.
So he went into teaching, with the hope of returning to the building trade when it returned to profitability.
”But I never did go back. I left the building trade on the Friday and I was in a classroom on the Monday.
”It’s very infectious, this place. I didn’t intend to stay this long.”
Mr Andrews said the hardest thing about changing professions was the constant change in classes.
”You had a new class/project every 40 minutes – not like building houses where you had a new project every few months.”
He learnt very quickly that pursuing a teaching career had many rewards.
Coaching the school’s rowing, rugby, yachting, volleyball and smallbore rifle shooting teams and watching boys develop their skills and grow into young men was particularly rewarding, he said.
”I love the family atmosphere here.
”Former pupils still come back to the workshop to offer their expertise and to see what’s changed over the years.
”I also teach a lot of the sons of boys I taught when I first arrived at the school.”
His legacy will live on in the many projects his pupils have built over the years, including the school squash courts.
”I built them with the help of all the students carrying concrete blocks every night after school; and I was the communication person between the school, the architect and the builders during the rebuilding of the school.”
One of the major benefits of the job was being surrounded by experts in other fields, he said.
”I was taught photography by a fellow teacher.
”It was one of the many bonuses of going into teaching. You get to pick the brains of other teachers for free.”
Learning to take professional-quality photographs led Mr Andrews to become the school’s ”official photographer”, photographing sport, musicals, staff and prospectus images for the school.
He has photographically documented almost every major event at the school since 1976, and has been the official photographer of many former pupils’ weddings.
Mr Andrews will retire at the end of this year to become an apiarist (beekeeper).
He has tended many hives part-time in Central Otago over the years as a hobby, and now plans to move to Alexandra and make it his ”life after retirement”.
Mr Andrews said he would inevitably miss the pupils the most when he left the school.
So he planned to return to the school occasionally to continue photographing important moments in the school’s history.
As he said: ”It’s very infectious, this place.”
From the 2014 School Magazine
When Neil finally closed the door on his Tech Department office, thirty-seven years of service swung in behind him. Never had he thought that the messy, dishevelled chippy, who appeared at school on the off chance, and asked for a job, would be walking out with so many years of memories hived within him.
In his time at school Neil involved himself in everything. He was a very successful rugby coach for many years; a stalwart of the basketball and volleyball heydays of the 80’s; a soccer supremo, and recently he managed the small-bore rifle team that achieved so much success.
Naturally, as time went on, Neil’s classroom profile rose. After a few years he was firmly ensconced as Head of the Technical Department. His expertise was often called upon by the Beard – Neil sat on the Works Committee for many years. He had a direct input into the rebuilding of the school – many of the final features of the school were at Neil’s insistence.
Being Head of Tech means simply responding to a thousand requests. Kindling for the fire, help with a home project, building sets for school productions. He never turned anyone down.
His greatest legacy however, is the relationship he built with the boys he taught. There is almost no business in Dunedin where ‘.’lei! is not recognised and warmly greeted. Of course he could rant and rave with the best of us, but his heart was always with the boys and how they were managing their school work. And what work it was! The final projects each year demonstrated the boys’ skills and their teacher’s passion for the job.
It is easy to say there will never be another one like him, but in :his instance it really is true.