Jim and Jillian Dellit established this website to bring together their various endeavours, to engage with and contribute to the educational community and educational delivery. Jillian is continuing this work both in her own right, and to keep faith with Jim's life, 1947-2014, and their productive partnership 1970-2014.

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Conversations with Baby Boomer Teachers: Profile 27

Posted by Jillian in Biography, Curriculum, History of Education, Primary schooling, Secondary schooling
December 9

B2 was motivated to become a teacher by a terrific Year 7 teacher who saw her potential and encouraged her to go to Enfield High School and pursue teaching. It was difficult to make this happen. Her parents were not supportive and sent her to Nailsworth Girls’ Technical High School to pursue secretarial studies.

At Nailsworth she was in a Commercial stream and did German as an addition in her own time. Joan Young, who was the deputy at Nailsworth, encouraged her to apply for a teaching scholarship in Year 11, her final year as the school did not offer Leaving Honours. She also had a job after school on Thursdays and Fridays. She won the scholarship to do Primary teaching at Wattle Park Teachers’ College. Joan went on to become Principal of Gepps Cross Girls’ High, where she stayed for over 20 years and significantly improved girls’ education.

At the end of her first year at Wattle Park, B2 was asked to transfer to Western Teachers’ College to take up training in a new pressure-cooker Home Economics teaching course. There were about 20 students in the program and they studied food, nutrition and needlework. She met a number of dynamic and influential women through the course. At the end of it she was appointed to Whyalla but a friend, who had a city appointment, wanted to get away from the city and asked her to swap. So small was the Home Economics world that there were no barriers to this!

Consequently, at the age of 19, B2 found herself at a city girls’ technical high school teaching students not much younger than herself. The course was very structured and inflexible. After a year she found herself moving around – doing a term at another city girls’ high school (where she met her husband-to-be) before getting a move to a school in the Iron Triangle in the North West of South Australia. After some negotiation she and her now-husband moved there to teach.

She did not have to resign when her children were born, but took 12 months leave. The demand for teachers was high. After her second child her parents also moved to the Iron Triangle and her mother looked after the children. They were there for six years after which her husband was appointed as Deputy Principal in a school north of Adelaide and B2 went to one of the newer High School emerging in the Northern suburbs of Adelaide. She really liked the staff there, but she was offered an appointment at a school closer to home, and took it.

She had always said she would not be able to accept a leadership position until her children were much older, but with encouragement from her family, she accepted a Home Economics coordinator position back in the Iron Triangle for 18 months – and loved it. She realised she had underestimated her own ability – and her family’s ability to manage with her away from home. She particularly enjoyed working with others in the development of teachers.

A small country High School in the North of the State had just reached the required number of students to be entitled to a deputy principal so she accepted the position when offered. After 12 months the numbers did not hold and the school lost its deputy entitlement. She had a choice of working in the Regional Office or taking an Assistant Principal’s job in the Riverland. She took the AP job but did not enjoy it. In what was very much a male enclave, the new position was paid less than a deputy but demanded the same work in difficult conditions. After 12 months, having now been away from her family for 4 years, she applied for and won a position at a high school in the Adelaide Hills, to which she could commute from home. This was just as well, as her husband soon won a position as Principal in a country school, where he served for 8 years before retiring!

After four years in the Adelaide Hills, B2 went to a diverse and flexible city school as Assistant Principal and was later appointed Principal. A glutton for punishment, she accepted an appointment to the South East of the State with the intention of staying two years- and stayed for seven. The Education Department got good value from her appointment. The school wanted to  extend its Viticulture course, so B2’s husband, now retired, got a TAFE diploma in Viticulture to help out!

After those seven years, B2 took a year’s long service leave and she and her husband spent several months travelling in their caravan. When they arrived home in October she did not feel quite ready to retire. The Education Department asked if she would be interested in a country Primary School but in the process of checking it out she learned about a Literacy Review and was offered research work as part of it. She really enjoyed the work,  particularly listening to and gathering stories and evidence. She found report writing hard, but jumped at the chance to go to the country for two years and implement the findings of the Literacy Review. She really enjoyed that.

She finally retired after a short time working in the Department’s central office dealing with parental complaints.

Reflection

B2 has never regretted becoming a teacher – never felt she did not like the job nor ever wanted to do anything else. She discovered very early that she is a people person – and that is what teaching is all about: communicating, relating to people and developing them in depth. These qualities are integral to her sense of herself. She has worked all her life to grow those skills.

Had she followed her parent’s ambition for her to undertake secretarial work she does not believe she would have the same desire to learn. She has been able to grab learning opportunities – and continues to do so in retirement. She is still involved in mentoring programs and supporting people – showing others how to achieve has become habitual.

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