Jane Kaa was an experienced teacher from Newmarket School in Auckland, New Zealand. She was 75 years old this year and was still hearing the children read daily right up to Thursday of last week. She passed away peacefully at home on Saturday night.
She was already teaching at Newmarket School when I arrived and I had the good fortune of relieving in her class for the first term in 2009. It had been a while since I taught 5 year olds and coming down from senior students I might have spoken a bit stronger with the children than I intended. But Jane was there to subtly remind me about other people’s children.
That first year I was reintroduced to Smarty Pants by Joy Cowley, one of Jane’s favourite children’s authors, and my senses were flooded with crazy 5 years olds interpretation of being a smarty pants. Those MASSIVE drawings took up the whole wall. I was also reminded about giving the 5 year olds extra time to have their breaks. Jane ensured that they began eating five minutes before the school bell rang.
The week we had swimming, she asked me to lead like a mother duck. Those of you who know me know I walk really fast. I got halfway down Broadway before realising I had left Jane, the extra parent helpers and the children around the corner still coming up Nuffields street. When I got back to her, she shook her shoulders, smiled and said “ that is why we leave a little earlier.”
Jane found out I was keen to learn about Tui’s and so she brought me old books to help me with my Global Project. We spend several sessions talking about Tuis and it was through Jane that I found out that Tuis don’t generally walk on the ground because they have curved claws from hanging onto branches. I also found out about their brush tongues through Jane.
I wrote about Jane before when I wrote about our schools history and how she alluded me to the fact how huge it was. It is because of Jane that I began collating images and historical artefacts about our school. It was through Jane that I found out about ‘Ti Tutahi’.
After she retired, Jane continued to work at our school supporting our children with reading. She always told me how amazing the children were and could stretch them through a passion. She would go out of her way to look for science books, insects books, story books, that would fit the level of the children she was working with.
She had two sons of whom she was immensely proud. Sometimes she would ask me if I had caught up with their lives on Facebook. That always made me giggle because I spent several years trying to get her to turn her teacher laptop on. However she discovered the ease of the smart phone for keeping in communication. I would sometimes bounce her tidbits of information that she could watch on youtube or read on her smart phone. She would respond in kind with photos of the grandchildren. Just last week I had rediscovered Emere’s speech on the environment and had thought how I must share that with her.
Jane had such an interesting life and she knew so many people. I remembered when the Prime Minister and Governor General visited to talk to our students about leadership. I often wondered if it was her connections that helped our case for a visit. She used to tell me about her life as a young wife for Hone Kaa. How the presbytery was the stopping in place for the various movements that passed through over the years.
She was interviewed by our children about her part in the springbok tour and I remembered what an incredible impact that was for the children to hear from someone who was there.
Jane hated photos and being photographed with a passion and had a way of sneaking away. But over the years I did manage to get a couple. When we set up the historic photos outside the hall, I even managed to sneak one of her in there. You do have to look for it.
Ah Jane I am going to miss our talks. No one else quite gets those Tui’s like you do. I think of all the service you gave Newmarket School, all the families you have been a part of the dinner tables conversations, and how you helped leave the school in a better place. I know you will continue to read my blog from where ever you are.
Ia manuia lou malaga.