Championing girls at St Paul’s

Championing girls at St Paul’s

18 May 2016

This is the first in a series of stories where past staff and students reflect on their time at St Paul’s as we start preparing for the school’s 60th anniversary celebration in 2019.

Dr Kay Etheredge (past staff 1988-2002) made a significant contribution to St Paul’s Collegiate School during her 15 year tenure, through her engaging teaching style and in her work to increase the number of girls who attended St Paul’s.

Kay says that during her 15 years at St Paul’s there was an incredible amount of change and she was in a fortunate position to be able to contribute.

One area of change was the rapid increase in girls at the school. In 1990 Kay was appointed housemaster of the ’Girls’ House’ which took Year 12 and 13 day students, and was later named Harington House, after the late Pamela Harington.

Two years later, Kay was influential in the establishment of girls' boarding and contributed to the design of the new boarding house for girls. She fondly recalls a lot of “heated debate” around the layout of the accommodation. “I pushed really hard for single rooms. I was adamant girls of years 12 and 13 needed their own room.”

In 1992, Kay moved on site with husband Paul to become housemaster of Harington boarding and day house where they lived for 5 years. The boarding house started with 10 boarders and the following year this increased to 19. Another wing was built to accommodate the girls and each year as the numbers continued to increase Kay pushed to get more space.

As head of Biology Kay was involved in the development of the new science block which opened in 1999.

“That was a fabulous opportunity because we had input into the architecture of that building and I was able to draw on my experience in other labs. The glasshouse was an invaluable resource for Year 13 work.”

Kay had a way about teaching that made her adored and a favourite with her students. One was US-based plastic surgeon and Old Collegian, Simon Talbot (Hamilton 1990-1994).

“My fondest memories of Kay are the evenings when she would stay late in her classroom surrounded by plants, microscopes, and various field cricket dissection specimens,” Simon recalls.

“She was always bursting to impart more knowledge, and would speak fast so as not to waste a minute of time that could be spent usefully in this endeavour. Her handwriting would often tail off into a line as there was no need for unnecessary neatness when trying to convey as much information as possible.”

“Kay would teach more than just knowledge. She focused on systems and method, ways to think, and minutiae that I still use – and now teach – 20 years later.”

Kay’s teaching philosophy was based around respect for the individual and never underestimating the intellectual ability of each and every student.

“A student can sit there for 2-3 months and not make much progress then suddenly you can get them to switch and they can start to shine and develop wonderful skills.”

Raised in the South Island, Kay attended Canterbury University and taught at Rangi Ruru Girls’ School in Christchurch and Hamilton’s Fairfield College. She also taught part-time for 12 years at the Waikato Technical Institute (now Wintec). She did her PHD at Waikato University in the early 1980s. Today, she is enjoying retirement with husband Paul at their home in Te Pahu on the slopes of Mt Pirongia.

(Source: Monica Holt and Michelle Smith Network magazine)