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:
Goulburn Revisited
Goulburn Landmarks
Goulburn Reunion


buff said...

Thanks for sharing. I am sure your students now look back at how wonderful a teacher they had.

Thanks for sharing. From a fellow gay catholic with similiar progressive beliefs.

Boppo said...

Wow Mr Bayly, some cracking memories here!!! Just stumbled upon this blog, bloody fascinating mate... nice work.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Thanks, Clint! I'm glad we're connected now on Facebook. I hope one day to see you and your band perform!



Unknown said...

Hey Michael,

It's Thomas Coogan, you were a legend man, you taught me so many things that changed my life and increased my imagination. Thank you from the bottom of my heart :)

Michael J. Bayly said...

Hey, thanks, Thomas!

It's great to hear from you and I appreciate your kind words. It was an honor to teach you and all the other young people who were part of my life at that time.

What are you up to now? Feel free to e-mail me, if you like, at or connect with me on Facebook –