A love of learning leads to new life in Nelson


At Nayland College, we have been very fortunate to have a great group of new teachers join our whanau this year. Over the coming months, we will be running profiles of our new staff so you can get to know them better. This week, we say hello to our new english teacher Katherine Ferguson.

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in Pennsylvannia, USA but moved to Tauranga when I was very young. People often get me confused with someone from the deep south with my exaggerated r’s but it’s just because my mum is American.

Where else have you lived before coming to Nelson?

I went to primary school in Whanagnui, high school in Auckland and studied at university in windy Wellington.

What other jobs have you had before becoming a teacher?

While I was studying, I was a reliever in early childhood centres for three years but otherwise teaching is my first ‘real’ gig.

What drew you to Nelson?

My parents moved here in my last year of high school so I would often come down to visit and thought it was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever been! I also met the person who is now my husband here, so that was a bit of a draw too I suppose 😉. I love the variety in landscape; how you can be at a golden sandy beach and turn around and see mountains right behind you!

What drew you to teaching and english teaching specifically?

I know it sounds cheesy, but I always wanted to be a teacher. My own high school teachers inspired my love of learning and critical thinking. I remember looking at my history teacher walk around the room just so excited about what they were talking about and I was like ‘yea I want to do that, sign me up!’. Also, I have been an English nerd from day one and it’s such a diverse subject. It’s not just about spelling, reading and writing it is about life experiences and ideas and history! I could go on but you get the idea.

What do you like about teaching, and teaching at Nayland specifically?

It’s just the best. It is never the same and while you are teaching you are also learning so much from the students. Also the students are hilarious, they crack me up every single day. Teaching at Nayland is great because the students are not afraid to share their ideas and thoughts on whatever we talk about in class- class discussions are never boring

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Since moving to Nelson, I have inevitably been dragged into the terrifying sport of mountain biking. I think I am finally progressing from the ‘terrified for my life every time I go’ stage to the ‘maybe I won’t fall off today’ stage! I also love running which is slightly less perilous.  

What is one film everyone should watch? 

This is an incredibly nerdy answer, but honestly the Lord of the Rings films are just really great. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

What were you like as a student at school?

I think about this a lot since becoming a teacher and honestly, I am coming to the realization that I might have been kind of annoying. I was pretty studious, but I also think I took myself too seriously. If I could go back in time I would definitely tell myself to relax! 

How are you coping with the lockdown?

It’s been an experience! I have honestly loved the extra time to just relax and take life a little slower as I am not faced with the same day to day distractions that somehow manage to consume my time. Online learning has presented its challenges and I miss that face to face interaction with students and staff a lot. It has definitely made me appreciate social interaction more but has forced me to be more creative with my teaching and how I interact with my students! 

By Duncan McKinlay