Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Remnants of a Past Life
Following is a selection of photographs taken during my six years of teaching at Sts. Peter and Paul’s Primary School in Goulburn, New South Wales. I taught fourth class (or grade) from 1988-1990, and fifth class from 1991-1993.
My time at Sts. Peter and Paul’s was one of the happiest and most creative of my life. Paradoxically, it also was one of my most loneliest and isolating – owing to the fact that I was living a closeted existence as a gay man.
I don’t regret, however, my time as a teacher. One reason for this is that I felt incredibly close to God as I endeavoured to channel my loving and creative energies into my work. Looking back, I can’t believe some of the amazing things I accomplished with the students in my care – the dramatic adaptations of books we staged, the range of interesting topics and themes we creatively explored, and the colourful and stimulating classroom environments we created and sustained. In short, it was a very special time – for me and, I hope, for them as well.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of my files (containing my lesson plans, handouts, plays, units of work, and other resources which I either created or collected) have been lost. When I relocated to the U.S. in 1994, I thought I’d be gone for 2-3 years at the most. Accordingly, I left my files at the school. Of course, a whole new life opened up for me in the U.S., and now, 14 years later, it’s impossible to discover what became of my teaching files.
Some may say, “Well, so what?” And in a way, it’s a fair question, given that I don’t intend ever returning to teaching. Nevertheless, I think it would be great to simply look through these files and be taken back to my past life as a primary school teacher in rural Australia and be reminded again of the creative and happy times I experienced and shared.
The files may be lost forever but I do have the many photographs that I took during my teaching days. They now serve as very special surviving traces, or remnants, of this very special time in my life. It’s these “remnants” that I’m sharing with you today. Enjoy!
Above: The cricket match. I took this photo on the last day of my first year of teaching (1988). On special days like the last day of school, students were able to wear “casual clothes” and not their school uniforms.
Above: From left: Bernard Conroy, Andy Lindner, Tom Coogan, and Neil Gustafson re-enact the execution of Jesus in Sara’s Gift, an Easter play I wrote and which 5B staged for the school community in 1992.
Above: What a great action shot! Skipping from left: Belinda Tooth, Iliana Mylonas, Jacqueline Baird, Sherri Mowle, Keryn Sully, and Megan McKenzie – 1991.
Above: Celebrating Christmas on the last day of school in 1992.
Above: Danielle Lewin and Carl Zmyslawsli at work on a model of an Australian colonial-style building – 1991.
Above: To conclude a 1992 unit of work on the American West, we all came to school dressed appropriately! From left: Tom Coogan, Matthew Knight, Bernard Conroy, James Clifton, and Jason Weir.
Above: The following year the students constructed a tipi in the school playground. From left: Adrian Sheather, Jessica Shoppee, Kylie O’Neill, Adam Phillips, Prue McIntyre, Casey Breeze, Anthony Hutchins, Alana Henry, and (in a cowboy hat in the background) Stephen Polzin.
Above: Megan McKenzie and Danielle Lewin sell cakes and toffees for a 5B fundraiser to help Kurdish refugees in Iraq – 1991.
Above: In 1990 I was asked to accompany Year 6 on their annual camping trip. I’d taught many of these students two years earlier when they were in Year 4. For instance, Neil, the boy on the far right of this photo, is pictured at the far left of the “cricket match” photo at the beginning of this post.
For more “remnants” of my teaching days in Goulburn, click here.
See also the Wild Reed posts: