When she completed the HSC at a School on the North Coast of NSW, S desperately wanted to travel overseas. However, she was offered a Teachers’ College Scholarship and, after considerable deliberation, decided to accept this offer as it would provide her with independence and long term financial security.
Growing up on the Gold Coast allowed her to develop strong swimming skills both in the surf and in the pool. She spent hundreds of hours training in an ocean, salt-water swimming pool before goggles and caps were common. The Gold Coast also offered her the opportunity to participate in numerous sporting codes. School and Association Competition allowed her to further develop her skills and she played a range of competitive sports including Netball, Soccer, Softball, Athletics and Hockey. She was well co-ordinated and, although her childhood dream was to be an Air Hostess, she decided to specialise in a career in Sport and Physical Education. She considered joining the Forces but the scholarship to teach was offered and she chose to train as a Physical Education Teacher. She was offered a three year training scholarship at Sydney Teachers’ College and, with a home made fruit cake and all her possessions in one suitcase, drove to Sydney with a family friend.
During her first year of teacher training, she lived with friends in Western Sydney catching the train each day to Sydney Teachers’ College in Missenden Road, Newtown. In second year she lived with friends in a variety of shared apartments and houses in Newtown, Redfern, Stanmore, Campsie, Randwick and Bondi Beach. She was able to purchase a motorbike to get around the city and would catch the overnight train back to the Gold Coast for holidays – occasionally splurging on an overnight compartment. In third year, her Grandfather gave her his old EK Holden stationwagon which proved to be a much safer option than a motorbike. The EK even travelled to Jindabyne, in the Snowy Mountains when STC students were offered the opportunity to learn to ski during a July Holiday.
Practice Teaching at a number of schools gave her the opportunity to demonstrate her enthusiasm for teaching and she gained Distinctions in her placements. After graduating she was appointed to a School on the South Coast where she taught for two years.
At this point she requested Leave and her ambition to travel was finally realised. She spent time in Mauritius, South Africa and Egypt before travelling to London where she was able to gain work as a waitress (doubling her wage by working weekends). London was a useful base and this allowed her to travel and discover the amazing cultural differences of many countries in Europe.
Before leaving Australia to travel, S had gained employment at a US Summer Camp to teach swimming and lifesaving skills in upstate New York. This was an interesting experience where she spent 8 weeks and met other teachers from all parts of the world. After this, she spent time in New York, then travelled with friends across Canada and down the west coast of America to San Francisco where she worked for a few months in a family friends’ Art Design Business preparing displays for large American Department Stores. Staying with family and friends in different countries allowed her to feel like a local and not just a tourist passing through.
On her return to Australia she was appointed to a School in the New England Region. It was here she met her future husband. She enrolled in a Bachelor of Education at the University of Wollongong, majoring in Health & Physical Education. The course work was external with residential schools held during the year. Towards the end of this course she was granted leave and again travelled to London and completed her University Examinations at a High School in London.
Returning to Australia she was appointed to another New England School, and spent the year commuting between this school and the small country town where she and her partner owned a house. At the end of this year she resigned due to the difficulty of travelling between home and work. She was offered casual employment at a number of Schools in the area.
During this time she enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts at The University of New England, majoring in Literature & Biology and attended Residential Schools during the year. About this time, her partner was offered opportunities to work in radio & entertaining in Sydney. They decided to move to Sydney, so the house was sold and they purchased a small apartment in the Eastern Suburbs.
Before leaving the country town, she applied for and won a position advertised in the Sydney Morning Herald as a Physical Education Teacher at an Independent Girls’ School in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. The School catered for students from K-12. During this time she completed a Masters of Educational Administration at the University of NSW, attending lectures 2 nights per week for 2 years and worked 6 days per week, including coaching on Saturday mornings. She has remained teaching at this school and has been Head of Department for a number of years.
More recently, she has attended Workshops on teaching Thinking Based Learning Skills to students. This extension of Teaching and Learning practices included methods for teaching students metacognition and deeper thinking. She is also an advocate for Agile Learning Spaces and is on a Committee examining best spaces for student to learn. She has presented Lectures and Workshops at numerous Conferences specialising in contemporary Adolescent Health Issues. In the future she hopes to assist the NSW BOSTES in the writing of the new Australian Curriculum, Health & Physical Education (HPE).
Personally, she has found time to attend Drawing & Painting Classes and has completed a Certificate in Ceramics at the National Art School in Darlinghurst. Her passion for travel has never abated and during her Long Service Leave she was able to learn French at the Alliance Francaise in Paris. A few years later she again requested Leave and this time lived with a French Family in Nice and completed further studies in French. Living in Nice also gave her the opportunity to attend a Sailing School, where she learnt to sail and give way to yachts and cruise ships, on the Mediterranean.
S acknowledges she has excelled in her chosen career and has gained a great deal of satisfaction watching her students totally engaged in a lesson. She enjoyed supervising young teaching students for their Practical Teaching Experience and learned as much from them as they did from her. She is excited about the Australian Curriculum and new pedagogical techniques for assisting students to think about the way they learn. She has helped her husband run a successful business and has had wonderful opportunities to travel extensively and gain an understanding of the world.
She is concerned for young people with the increasing levels of diagnosed Depression, Stress and Anxiety. She wonders about the relative state of an individual’s happiness and the possible consequences of perpetual Social Media use. She is an advocate for including Relaxation courses in schools to help address some of these concerns and would like schools to include Mindfulness, Yoga and Pilates in the Curriculum. Her greatest enthusiasm is still for travel. Seeing much of the world has given her a sense of gratitude for being born an Australian and for the opportunities offered to Australians. Her curiosity to see new lands is unabated and, at the time of this conversation, had plans to visit South America.
Her travel diary still has a few vacant pages.