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Pip Dinsenbacher Retires

Regulus // Issue 2 // August 2022

More news for Preparatory School

Pip stands next to a table of paper scraps from craft work in an art room.After more than 23 years inspiring and encouraging countless Preparatory School children to explore their creativity in vibrant, clever, and exciting ways, Art Specialist, Pip Dinsenbacher closed her classroom door for the final time, when she retired at the end of Term 2.

Pip’s dedication to St Andrew’s is without question. For all those years, she drove 90km to and from the College each day from her home near Porters Ski Area, where her husband, Uli, was the General Manager for many years. “My blue truck was by far the oldest in the carpark, complete with moss and residential spiders. It’s done 720,000 kms now, with most of them going to and from the College.”

Pip says she will miss the “thinking and chill-out time” on those long drives, her students, and the “endless amazing community of people” at St Andrew’s. “It has been great to be part of such an incredible place.”

Not that Pip is completely leaving St Andrew’s behind, as she will continue as the College’s part‑time Museum Curator and Archivist. “I couldn’t go ‘cold turkey’ on St Andrew’s. That would be too hard,” she says.

Before Pip started at St Andrew’s in 2000, she had already been teaching for 21 years. She started in Auckland as a classroom teacher in several city primary schools, and after moving to the South Island taught at Springfield School for seven years. Following the birth of her children, Sophie and Dani, Pip did a lot of part-time teaching, with much of it focused on Art. 

This led to her applying for and getting the role as Preparatory School Art Specialist at St Andrew’s. “It has been the best job ever and has allowed me to follow my passion for teaching Art.”

The much-admired artwork adorning the display spaces throughout the Preparatory School has all come out of Pip’s room. During her time at St Andrew’s, she has also built up the College‑wide art collection, with a focus on New Zealand art.

Her own love of art was fostered by her parents, especially her father who was a teacher and headmaster. “Dad loved to paint and make things, and all the early art stuff I did was with him. Every Saturday he would take us to the art gallery and library.”

The patience for teaching that Pip also learnt at her father’s side, has benefited hundreds if not thousands of Preparatory School children over the years.

Both of Pip’s children went to St Andrew’s, and this month, she is looking forward to travelling to Nevada to see Dani, Both of Pip’s children went to St Andrew’s, and this month, she is looking forward to travelling to Nevada to see Dani, and Stockholm to see Sophie. Her other retirement plans include doing more photography, playing the piano, and continuing to learn raranga (weaving Māori baskets). “We lived mainly in Māori communities when I was a child, and I’ve always had a love of Māori traditional art patterns, myths and legends, and Te Reo. I’m currently learning the language, and plan to keep studying until I’m fluent.”

Principal of Preparatory School and Deputy Rector, Jonathan Bierwirth, says Pip will be missed by students and staff. “Pip has been standout in her Art role. To be able to inspire, guide, and teach every child in the Preparatory School, aged 5 to 13, is not something everyone can do. Furthermore, the children’s stunning results across all art mediums and over many years has been quite remarkable. Pip is particularly talented at displaying the children’s work in clever and eye-catching ways. We will miss Pip as a gifted teacher, friend, and high achiever.

Art Specialist, Pip Dinsenbacher, retires after 23 years of inspiring creativity at the College.