She entered the portals of Pakuranga College as a newly married, 21-year-old.
After spending more than four decades at the college, Kay Davies retired last Friday at the age of 65, marking an end of an era.
Mrs Davies aka Mrs Thorn has been a “much loved aunty/grandmother ” to many international students as well as dean of Rimu House to different generations of students.
Always dressed impeccably, she stands tall, cutting a striking figure which had some refer to her as the elegant `Lady Kay’.
Considering her years of dedicated service to the school, it is not surprising that she has been a teacher to some of the current teachers at Pakuranga College.
There is a joke doing the rounds that when Social Science teacher Mike Williamson told Mrs Davies that he started school in 1973, the same year that she did, she looked a little puzzled and said “Oh, but I don’t remember you as a teacher.”
Only to have Mr Williamson smile saying, “That’s because I was a Year 9 student then!”
Having worked with six principals over the last 43 years, Mrs Davies has undoubtedly impacted thousands of lives.
It’s not unusual for students to walk up to her in far corners of the world, be it the US, UK, South East Asia or Australia and introduce themselves.
“It’s wonderful when ex-students remember something you said so many years ago that impacted their lives, because as a teacher you are just doing your job,” she says, a day before her retirement.
Mrs Davies admits that in all the years she spent at Pakuranga College she never felt a hint of boredom.
As a young girl from Hasting she started her career teaching Physical Education. It wasn’t long before that the principal at the time asked her if she would be a sports co-ordinator as well as assistant dean for 7th form.
“After six and a half years in that role, I felt I was running a bit empty,” she recollects about a challenge she thoroughly enjoyed.
“In 1994 there was a massive change in thinking. I was asked to be on the committee to restructure pastoral care. It was the first time that we looked at a vertical house system which worked very well,” she says of change in the education system.
During her long tenure at Pakuranga College, Mrs Davies was a relieving deputy principal thrice.
However in 2004, she took a break from school due to family reasons.
“During my year off, principal Bali Haque requested me to bring out the school magazine which I gladly did. I also did a small tutoring group with the students before I returned as dean of Rimu House in 2006,” she says.
In 2011 when the current principal Michael Williams realised there was a big surge in international students seeking admission, he asked her to be dean of International Students, a role she cherished.
“There has been a huge change in the ethnicity mix and I love the multicultural feel of the college. I admire the international students for leaving their country and coming to a different culture,” she says.
Much as she will miss school where she has spent two-thirds of her life, she now looks forward to Sunday nights.
“I could never relax on a Sunday night, wondering if I was prepared enough with the lesson for Monday at school or if I had finished marking papers,” she smiles.
Despite her strict instructions that she wanted a very low key farewell, the staff organised a high tea befitting Mrs Davies. It took her by complete surprise on her last day at school.
Principal Williams says, “She is an institution in herself and will be leaving a big hole in the school. She’s a real treasure-trove of information and will be dearly missed.”