School’s out for Mrs Jones, after 45 years

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It is 100 years, almost to the week, since Wyvern Jones’ mother, Jean Jones, began at Carew School as a five year old – and tomorrow, Mr Jones’ wife, Beth, leaves the school – now Carew Peel Forest – after 45 years.

Beth Jones has been relieving at the school for 45 years and this Friday, reluctantly, she will leave.

But she hopes it will not be for too long – she hopes to return – “if they can find a role for me” – as a volunteer.

And she said that she would have done the 45 years of work even if she hadn’t been paid.

Beth Jones came to Carew from Invercargill – she says she did not bring the rolling R with her – as a young bride, and began relief teaching at Carew, Hinds and Mayfield schools.

The Jones had three children, and let her teacher registration slip.

But when her youngest child started school, Mrs Jones came back as a teacher aide, working four mornings a week.

Now, the children she worked with decades ago have children at the school, and single men who worked on the family farm have children at the school.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It is with great reluctance I leave. I’m trying to sneak out quietly.

“I’m going to so miss the children and the congeniality of the staff.”

But Mrs Jones said she would not miss the calendar-watching as she tried to juggle farming life with school terms, and it was not unknown for her to rush home at lunch breaks to feed shearers.

Mrs Jones said she had high regard for the school – all rural schools – and some of the children from Carew Peel Forest had gone on to big things.

When she steps away on Friday, Mrs Jones said she hoped to be active and out biking with her husband, and visiting grand-children.

“I will see where (retirement) takes me,” she said.

“I’m also hoping that if anyone here has a use for me, I’d come back on a voluntary basis.”

Mrs Jones said that with a therapist she had been working with children with delayed speech.

“It’s been a big decision (retiring) but it may not be the end,” she said.