From the age of 10, W said she wanted to be a teacher; a primary school teacher. Her home at St Peters in Adelaide had a garage with huge panels that acted as a blackboard and there she would play at being a teacher with younger children serving as her pupils.
When she was at high school an elderly friend of her family asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up. When she answered “a primary teacher” he asked her why and suggested she should be a secondary teacher. That got her thinking.
Her Italian migrant parents had not had university education, but were literate. Education mattered and was valued in her family. Her mother had aspired to university and told the story of a family friend in her grandfather’s generation who became a professor and yet her grandfather had been the brighter of the two throughout their schooling. The fact that W wanted to be a teacher was given great importance by her parents and regarded as a high status choice. She was supported to the maximum level – not in material terms (such as coaching) but in terms of values and valuing.