Ruth Low 1984-2016
Having worked at St Peter’s College for over 30 years, Ruth Low can look back with some satisfaction on a job well done. Alongside a busy home life helping to run a farm and raising a family, she has managed to make a difference to generations of young people, especially those that she describes as “being on the edge”.
She has loved all the ages and stages of the school and has seen many changes in the last three decades as principals have come and gone. In Martin Thyne’s day she remembers the big communal table in the staffroom and lots of enthusiasm from a young and diverse staff. As more technology crept in, some of this camaraderie was inevitably lost. John Boyce’s time saw cutbacks in some of the sports exchanges and an even greater emphasis on culture, with wonderful stage productions and a growth in the Eisteddfod, supported by creative staff members. Three more principals have brought changes of their own and made their mark in Ruth’s time here and she in turn has contributed in many different aspects of school life over the years.
Coming to St Peter’s to work part time, when her youngest child was starting school, she was employed to teach PE and maths but then moved on to include social studies and junior science. Beginning as an assistant to Sister Josephine in the maths department, she gradually took on more of the teaching herself. Over time she grew into the role of maths teacher, starting with year 9 and progressing up the age groups by mastering the curriculum in the holidays. Looking back, Ruth says she has taught with some wonderful people in a very caring and considerate workplace.
Over the years she helped out at the Hostel, often staying behind to assist students who were struggling with their work. She was a keen tramper and loved spending time at Borland Lodge and trekking with groups of young people. Ruth has a very high regard for the outdoor education staff and the opportunities that they give to the youngsters. She has also been in charge of the International Students Department and organised their homestays and made many friends amongst the homestay parents. Homesick students from abroad could often be found in her kitchen, preparing food and finding companionship. In her time here, Ruth has seen how the student body at the school has learned to accept other cultures and welcome the diversity that they bring.
In the last few years, her focus has been on helping students with problems to realise their full potential and she is passionate about ensuring that they are given every opportunity to achieve, gaining great joy from her pastoral role.
A Gore girl herself, Ruth didn’t originally intend to become a teacher. She was musical as a child and had her heart set on a career in broadcasting, but good exam results meant that her father insisted that she stay on at school and go on to university. Having gained a degree, she went on to teacher training college and began teaching in Invercargill. By then, she was married to Ross and the opportunity arose to take over the family farm, so it was back to Merino Downs.
It hasn’t all been hard work though. The family had a crib at Riverton for many happy holiday breaks. They have always been keen on racing and have bred horses and also supported their daughter when she was taking part in one day events. In 2002 and despite Ross’s health problems over the years, they were able to make a 14 week trip abroad. Basing themselves in London, they travelled all over the UK from there. They were also able to visit many parts of Europe, the USA, Canada and Singapore
Her family are all grown up now – Geoff, a doctor of philosophy based in the UK, Deb, a sales manager in Invercargill, with a family of her own and Warrick, Head of Tourism at Venture Southland. Now that she is retiring, Ruth will have more time to spend at their holiday home in Roxburgh, tackling those photo albums and doing some more walking. If circumstances allow, she also hopes to visit her grand- daughters in Surrey.
But for now, with time to reflect, Ruth is happy that she chose teaching as her career.