Farewell for longest-serving Cambridge Middle School teacher

Mr Richard Glover, pictured with his 2017 class at Cambridge Middle School

A long-standing member of the Cambridge Middle School community hung up his teaching hat for the last time on Monday, leaving behind a lasting legacy after more than four decades with the school.

Richard Glover, as many former students will remember, was a well-known teacher at Cambridge Intermediate/Middle School (CMS) and became an integral part of the happenings there over the years, facilitating countless sporting events and programmes, as well as teaching around 1300 students across 42 home room classes.

It all started back in 1976 at age 24, his first full-time year of teaching after completing his Bachelor’s degree followed by a Master’s degree at the University of Waikato. Richard started with 26 form one (year 7) students in Room 10, a classroom he would be in several times over the years – in fact he’s taught in almost every one – but it was in his second year that he really dove in the deep-end, with a class of 39 students in Room 2! “You couldn’t walk forward, you walked sideways between the desks,” Richard laughs as he recalls the early years.

Back in 1978 Richard started up the Waikato Inter-Intermediate Swimming Champs in Cambridge, which he has run ever since at the Cambridge Town Pools. After holding the event for the first few years in Cambridge, some of the Hamilton schools decided they wanted the event to be run at the then-newly constructed facility at Te Rapa, but when they realised the mammoth cost that Te Rapa would charge ($240 per hour in 1983!) they were quick to back down and let it stay in Cambridge, which at that stage charged nothing for school events. This year Richard ran the event for the 40th successive year.

A large majority of Cambridge Middle School’s sporting programmes can be credited to Richard in origin. In ’78 he started the school’s sporting records, which are still kept in the same original exercise book. “Surprisingly it’s actually still in good condition!

The original records book shows when Deigna Khamal beat Anke Nieschmidt’s 1981 records, in 2012.

“I’ve had a few parents or former students over the years ask me if their record was still standing that they had established, and looking back into the book I can see that it often is,” says Richard. In fact several old athletics records were smashed in 2012 by up-and-coming track athlete Deigna Khamal (now 18), who took former student Anke Nieschmidt’s records, from 1981.

“I managed to get hold of (Anke) and got her to come in and present Deigna with the championship record certificates that she’d broken some from 30-odd years after Anke had set them. Then the National Radio Sports host Murray Deaker heard about it and interviewed us on National radio, on his well-known Sunday show,” says Richard, who has endless stories to tell from over the years.

It’s quite safe to say Richard has been a game changer for sports both at the school and in the Waikato region. He was the first to set up girls’ football at the then Cambridge Intermediate (both managing and coaching for over 20 years), and at one point he had over a quarter of the girls at the school taking part in the sport! He also was instrumental in setting up football at Waikato University in 1970 (originally Teacher’s Varsity, now known as Waikato Unicol). He later started up Women’s Football at the local club as well as Waikato Rep. grades from under 13 to under 16. He was also the national selector for NZ Universities Women’s Football, and co-selector the Waikato women’s team at one stage.

The list of sports this legendary local established at the school seems endless, from a range of racquet sports through to girls’ rugby, lacrosse for both girls and boys, gymnastics, cricket, triathlon, football and volleyball, as well as many inter-school sporting exchanges. He has organised and run Totara Springs sports camps, and in the last 10 years organised a variety of sports teams competing at NZ AIMS (national sports for year 7 and 8 students). And of course we can’t forget the staple school sports for both the school and region in cross country, athletics and swimming which he has run for over 40 years now – simply “figuring it out” as he went until he had a smooth-flowing organisation in place. “I did study Phys Ed during Uni, but I just learnt the job as I went, started with nothing basically and just set it all up,” says Richard, who himself was a 100 and 200 metre athletics champion at the NZ University Championships over 30 years ago. He has also taken an part in football, cricket and many other sports over the years.

“After a while my wife complained I was never at home,” he laughs, “so, I had to start pulling back from things. It was difficult at times to do it all but I just grew into the job, I’m not sure how one person will be able to handle it all in the future! I am ready and willing to come back and organise the major sports in the future if the school wishes,” he says.

“I’ve really enjoyed taking kids through in sport and seeing them flourish and succeed. Showing them that they are capable, even when they don’t think they are,” says Richard. Often times it was sports that enabled him to “get through” to the more hard-to-reach students – he recalls several occasions where he was able to help turn boys’ lives around by channelling their focus and drive into sport.

Now heading into semi-retirement, Richard says he has countless fond memories from over the years. His two trips to Tokyo in Japan as part of the reciprocal Makuhari Japanese Student Exchange (which he established with the first trip going in 1995) provided some great stories to tell. “It was great, I loved it, the food, the culture, and they were such a friendly people,” he says. “And it was the only time I’ve ever felt self-conscious in front of a crowd, there was something like 2000 students in their assembly hall, and I was in a suit of all things, and speaking in Japanese! You could say I felt a bit hot under the collar on that day,” he laughs.

The many school camps Richard went on – one every year (sometimes two), except this year – provided many more memories and experiences over the years – including cool activities like scuba-diving, kayaking, caving and abseiling, before more rigid health and safety rules exempted such activities being run by a class teacher without ‘proper’ qualifications in said events!

“Everything in learning and the curriculum has changed really,” Richard says when asked of the shifts in practices over the years. “I’ve become a bit of a dinosaur I guess! I still say to the kids the best calculator is between your ears.”

“I’m going to miss it, I really am,” says Richard. “It’s been my life for virtually two thirds of my life, so I’m going to miss it greatly. “I’m going to miss the organisational features, like the sports teams, and the look of success on kids’ faces, the look of realisation that they can do things, you know, seeing kids even if they come last, coming in with a smile, I’m going to miss all that stuff. And I guess I’ve always been a fronts-man so it’s going to be difficult stepping back.

“There’s been some really cool kids come through here and the staff has really worked well together,” says Richard, who started at the school with principal Jerry Brown, followed by Ian Hughes and then current principal Ross Tyson. In fact Richard also worked with the original Cambridge Intermediate School principal Jack Silcock whilst working on a ‘teacher’s section’ at Melville Intermediate during his time at Hamilton Teachers’ College in 1971.

Now he and wife Dawn will be moving to the sunny beachside settlement of Pukehina, in a beautiful beachfront property. He’ll still be in Cambridge for the next couple of weeks, recovering from shoulder surgery which will take place in the coming days. It’s somewhat of a home-coming moving back to the coast, though this time he’ll be living on the other side of the country. “I’ll be watching the sun rise rather than watching the sun set over the waves.”

Though he won’t be taking part in a raft of sports like he used to, Richard says he still very much plans on keeping active and may do the odd relief teaching work, as well as trying to learn how to become a successful fisherman!

With so many years in Cambridge and so many hundreds of students having been guided and inspired by Mr Glover’s passion for sport, it’s safe to say he’ll be greatly missed and fondly remembered by the many students who have had the pleasure of attending Cambridge Intermediate/Middle School with Mr Glover.

Gone but never forgotten!

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