Natalie Johnston

Published on Sunday, 14 June 2020, 6:09 p.m. Print Article

It is with sadness that we acknowledge the loss of Natalie Johnston, a past teacher at Christchurch South Intermediate. Natalie had a brief battle with illness before passing away peacefully on Thursday 11 June. 

Natalie taught at the school for 28 years from 1986 until she retired from full time teaching in 2014. During that time her primary responsibility was as an outstanding Visual Arts specialist teacher. 

Natalie was particularly creative and had an ability to support all learners to be successful with their art regardless of the perceptions they had of their own abilities. She introduced students to a wide range of art genres and styles from sketching, printmaking and painting to the likes of sculpture with various materials, pottery and carving. She was a skilled artist in her own right and developed a particular interest in carving and sculpture with sandstone.  

She worked with groups of students to design and regularly update murals around the school and was involved in a number of community murals around the city. Students thrived in these extension opportunities she offered. Her passion for the environment extended beyond murals. She was an integral driver behind the “Keep Christchurch Beautiful” initiative and promoted the school’s participation in these awards - a legacy that continues today.

Natalie contributed to the life of the school and the wider educational community in many ways. She played a significant role in supporting the development and introduction of the New Zealand Arts Curriculum which included running professional development workshops for teachers throughout Canterbury. She was a strong supporter of Cantamaths particularly the various opportunities for students to express their mathematical knowledge through the arts. Her interest in music extended to leading and supporting the school orchestra and kapa haka groups ensuring Christchurch South was well represented at music and cultural festivals. Natalie introduced Wearable Arts to Christchurch South encouraging students to enter a school competition she initiated and the Wearable Arts section of the Christchurch Cultural Festival. She saw the beauty in the Chinese Lantern Festival and supported students to successfully enter their creations.  Natalie became quite an expert teacher of how to make effective lanterns and was only too willing to share her expertise. Back in the days when the school had an annual fair, Natalie’s fudge, toffee and sweet making ability was legendary. She was a key member of the 75th Jubilee Committee.

Many, many students owe a debt of gratitude to Natalie for the way she exemplified the school motto, Aim High, in everything she did. Thank you Natalie for the amazing contribution you made to our school and to the lives of so many students over your 28 years service.