Fran Dustin was born in the North Island’s Bay of Plenty, lived in Te Puia Springs, and attended Te Kohanga Reo in early childhood but most of her subsequent milestones have been centered around Cromwell.
In 1989, Fran moved with her parents to Cromwell, and attended Cromwell Primary School, moving on to Cromwell College, before they returned to the Bay of Plenty.
By 1997, she was back in Central Otago, joining the Cromwell College Apartments outdoor education programme. Renewing friendships with her primary school mates, Fran, with her friendly, outgoing personality, was a great link between the new Apartments students and the locals.
Fran considers the late Sharon Booth as an important mentor in her life. Sharon employed Fran as a Teachers Assistant at Clyde Primary School in 1999 and encouraged her teaching ability.
Fran went to London in 2000 but returned to New Zealand in 2002 and enrolled at the Dunedin College of Education. After graduating, and employment at Queenstown Primary School, Fran was off again, working as a bartender in Ireland. She spent some time in international education, including teaching Gaddafi’s grandson in Libya.
Her respect for Sharon Booth saw Fran back in Cromwell, teaching at Goldfields School, and then she was off again – this time teaching in Arab schools in Abu Dhabi for 8 years. During that time, she became interested in well-being as a career.
The highlight of her time in international education, for Fran, was that it gave her the opportunity to visit over 50 countries, with different cultures, and ‘gain a better understanding of the human experience’.
A precious highlight of her travel was trekking with gorillas in Rwanda. She says, “It was such a humbling experience to see such large creatures living so peacefully.”
In 2019, Fran married Emma O’Reilly, from Ireland, and the ceremony took place at Bendigo. The couple decided to make Cromwell home, and Fran is now established as a valued member of the Cromwell Youth Trust.
She has brought her characteristic energy and enthusiasm to the job, mentoring teenagers, raising money for anything to do with students well-being, and introducing them to the Central Otago outdoor activities.
Fran is passionate about her role there, and when asked what she enjoys about it she says,
“It’s being able to use the varied experiences of my life (teaching, outdoor education, wellbeing) to support local Cromwell youths to make better choices about their own lives and what they want to make of them.