Susan Dickson, Mount Hutt College Careers Advisor for the past 16 years, is retiring and starting a new chapter in her life, pursuing her passions, which include marathon running and travel.
She grew up in rural Mid Canterbury but started her teaching career in Tauranga in 1975, teaching English and Social Studies. Wanting to return to this area with husband Bruce, they arrived in Methven in 1985 when Bruce took up his new role as Head of Science at Mount Hutt College. Susan started relief teaching at the same time, commenting, “I have had a continuous association with Mount Hutt College since we arrived. Not always on a full time teaching basis, but on and off, part time and relieving.”
For several years Susan taught Employment Skills and English, which sparked her interest in helping students plan their futures and find employment. “So when the careers position became available, I jumped at the chance,” she said.
Some memorable moments over the years include a project with a Yr9 Social Studies class. We called it ‘The Changing Role of Women in the Home’ and the students brought along vintage appliances to display, which illustrated how much had changed over the years.
Susan said, “It was amazing to see what the students brought in and the stories behind them, told by their parents and grandparents.”
Also the time Susan’s Employment Skills Class won the Senior Drama Competition, she said, “One year, we surprised everyone by taking out the competition and it was a real thrill for the students and for me.”
Of her time as Careers Advisor, Susan said, “Working in Careers is ‘a good news job’ helping students can be a long process and you are never sure how helpful you will be. Some of the most rewarding times is seeing senior students achieve valuable scholarships towards further education so they can pursue their chosen careers.
I have always tried to instill in the kids to find their ‘Point of Difference’. In order to ‘get that job’ they need something to separate them from all the other candidates, an ‘X Factor’ so to speak. I believe that being at Mount Hutt College already provides them with an advantage, as the quality of graduating students at all levels from this school is high.
I must also commend the local community for all their support and encouragement. I have been very grateful and appreciative of the people who have shown support for our students, for example the number of local business people and residents who volunteer their time each year to give mock interviews during the Yr12 seminar.”
Susan has been an active member of the Methven Community herself, over the years. With Methven Playcentre, leading the building committee for the original Methven Preschool (Creche), President of the Scouts and Guides and Board of Trustees for Our Lady of the Snows School, including a stint as Chairperson.
She has a passion for social justice and community and has been a member of the Catholic Women’s League and is currently on the National Board, as well as being on the National Council of Women. Not afraid to turn to action to support her causes, Susan has written letters to ministers and joined marches.
Her involvement with Methven Red Cross goes back to around 1990, she has been President of the local branch and has been involved at Regional and National level.
She said, “I love being part of the team running the Red Cross Shop. My afternoons opening ‘The Shop’ and for the past two years – Saturday lunch times are sacrosanct. I love meeting all the different people and raising money to make a difference to the lives of vulnerable people.”
Another important part of Susan’s life has been running, she has completed many half marathons and once she got over her own self-doubt she ran her first full marathon at age 55.
Combining her love of travel with running, she has competed in the New York and Paris Marathons as well as three marathons in New Zealand. Susan said that she would love to take part in the International Marathon hosted by the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan.
Her Philosphy in life is “To be grateful and that disappointments or things that don’t work out, do not become regrets.”
Susan says she is going to miss the job and that Confucius was not wrong – ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ However, she is looking forward to a new chapter, starting with taking part in the Outback Marathon at Uluru and then off adventuring.
Good Luck and Happy Travelling!