By TREVOR WAHUNE
ONCE a teacher, always a teacher, so the saying goes.
For 61-year-old Diana Kenehe the time to test that has come as she prepares for retirtement this year, after 41 years in classrooms around the country.
Born of New Ireland and East New Britain parents, Kenehe started her career at a time when there weren’t too many schools in the country, and the number of students – and teachers – wren’t as high as today.
“I started teaching in 1977, at Kerowagi High School. The opportunity to begin my career there was offered to me by my ex-deputy principal from Boisen High School in East New Britain,” she said.
“At that time he was the Kerowagi High School principal and they needed a science teacher.”
After teaching at Kerowagi for a year Kenehe moved to Kundiu High in Cimbu to join boyfriend Martin Kenehe, whom she married in 1978.
The two left Chimbu for Goroka High (now Goroka Secondary) in 1980 and the following year moved to Manus High and then to Malabanga in East New Britain.
“Martin left for Maprik High School in 1982, and left me teaching at Boisen High School (ENB). I had to stay back to look after my mother who was very sick at that time,” Kenehe said.
When her mother died the same year, Kenehe took her two children to Maprik to join their father. The year after that, the family moved to Arawa High, on Bougainville, and after the birth of a son that year Kenehe took the children and followed her husband who was at Rigu Boys High by then.
“We taught there until the Bougainville crisis started in 1989” when the family was moved from Arawa to Buka, and as the conflict worsened, the Bougainville education headquarters moved to Rabaul and so did Kenehe and her family. Martin Kenehe was appointed chief education officer in East New Britain.
Gerehu High in NCD was the next place the family found itself in when their father became assistant secretary in 1994, but in 1996 during a teachers’ protest Martin Kenehe was accused of leading the demonstration and was laid off. He didn’t work for 7½ years while he fought his case in the courts, which he won and returned to teaching in 2014 as principal of Gerehu Secondary. He retired this year.
“As for me, major challenges I faced was to have worked under different principals, especially when being a senior teacher,” said Diana Kenehe. “Others were adjustments to new environments from conflicts such as the Bougainville crisis and evading the 1994 volcanic eruption in Rabaul.
“After doing further studies at Goroka in 1998 and 1999, I began teaching education here at the Papua New Guinea Education Institute since 2000.
“So that’s 22 years in high school teaching, and 18 years at the PNGEI (in teacher education).”
She is a mother to four children. A son has died. She plans to retire in the next trimester.
“I enjoyed teaching, that was why I hung on all these years and never switched careers during my 41 years of service. I am pleased to have offered my services to the country as well.”
By TREVOR WAHUNE