Popular Life Education Trust educator Jane Hooper is retiring after nearly 20 years.
She leaves the role, working alongside Harold the Giraffe, at the end of the term.
It’s a role she has thoroughly enjoyed.
“I’ve loved teaching with Harold here, he’s a mischievous little imp.
“He does say things that surprise you.”
The topics that Harold covered during the school sessions were about pupils’ personal wellbeing, Jane said.
They ranged from identity and resilience, relationships and communities, food and nutrition, human biology, and substances.
And those subjects were tailored to meet each school’s needs.
“Kids are keen to come in,” Jane said, which was half the battle.
Jane, 66, said she felt the time was right to retire, despite having a role model ‘rock star type’ status as Harold among young children.
It was time for a focus change.
She plans on spending “good quality time” with husband Michael and getting out to do more tramping and hiking.
Jane started in the educator role around 2004.
She said she was now seeing parents who had come in as five, six and seven year olds who now had their own primary aged children going through the education.
“I will miss Harold, and miss the kids … miss the positivity, but I won’t miss the travel,” she said, with a grin.
The mobile Life Education Trust truck tours around schools in the Mid and South Canterbury districts covering the east coast from Rakaia, down to the Waitaki River and inland to the mountains.
It has been operating since 1991, teaching more than 8000 children at 67 schools about the wonders of their bodies, and which substances are needed – and not needed – to live a healthy lifestyle.
“I’ve been to some great places since taking on the role,” Jane said.
She also got to see more of the rural landscape than she imagined at times trying to find some of the more remote schools in the area.
There are 36 urban schools and 31 rural schools; 18 of which have less than 50 children.
The mobile classroom is state of the art, equipped with electronic aids to make learning an exciting experience for children.
New educator Amy Pateman has spent the past few weeks in training working alongside Jane, and at schools around the district.
She has a primary and early childhood education background and for the past 15 years had been managing ECE centres between Christchurch to Balclutha.
Her own two children are at primary school in Timaru.
Amy had been looking for a change in career and the educator role offered something special.
She was excited about the positive messaging for children about self and wellbeing and looked forward to continuing the work of Harold within Mid and South Canterbury schools.