Margaret Hunter – Marian Primary School: 1990.

Anna Connell (@annagconnell) an Online Community Manager. 

Lives in: Auckland

A Note For: Margaret Hunter (Form One Teacher, 1990) – Marian Primary School, Hamilton.

This is a tough one for me for me because I was very lucky to have so many great teachers at primary school, high school and university but I’ve chosen Mrs Hunter because she was the first teacher that really made me want to prove myself.

I was a smart kid but my school reports often mentioned my outstanding ability to distract others, talk too much and my inability to ‘apply’ myself. Despite having had a few excellent teachers in primary school, I arrived in Mrs Hunter’s classroom cocky, mouthy and a bit bored. Almost immediately, I began to realise I’d met my match with this teacher. She was tough, a proper disciplinarian; if you misbehaved, you got detention, which usually involved writing lines.  If you talked too much, you got sat up the front. After a while I realised that being a smartarse wasn’t getting me very far and for some reason, what Mrs Hunter thought was starting to matter.

I think she knew something about me that I hadn’t quite figured out and she seemed determined to make me realise it. She stopped being an obstacle to my attempts at classroom domination and started being someone who made me feel confident about being myself. I’d always loved music and drama and it was under Mrs Hunter that I really threw myself into it. I auditioned for the school play and was cast as the Wicked Witch of the West (that’s me in the photo, a kind of black bob to the left of the Cowardly Lion). I sang in choir and played clarinet although, I’m still not sure I entirely forgive you for that Mrs Hunter. I really wanted to play the drums.

Despite being quite tough, Mrs Hunter had a real sparkle in her eye, and sometimes a very wry smile on her face. She lead the choir and the orchestra, giving up hours and hours of her time after and before school to get a bunch of kids singing or playing in unison. She was also outstanding at reading out loud and I will never forget sitting on the mat, completely gripped as she read ‘Goodnight Mr Tom’ to us.

Like everyone, I’ve spent a lot of time working out how to manoeuvre through the world as me, a sometimes stroppy, outspoken but usually always a bit uncertain young woman. Mrs Hunter helped give me a sense of self very early on and every now and again, that’s made things a bit easier. So thank you, Mrs Hunter. You were a truly super teacher.