ABC Radio National has a project going at the moment to name your favourite teacher. Many people have done so, and written moving and interesting comments about those memorable and amazing people who have such an impact on our lives. This got me thinking about all the teachers who have made a difference to me. I have a special place in my heart for my first teacher, Miss Naughton, who started teaching the year I started school, 50 years ago in 1965. She was young – she turned 21 just after we started the school year that February. I remember her telling us that it was her special day that morning, and I told mum about it at lunch time (we walked home for lunch every day). Mum sent me back to school after lunch with some flowers for her from our garden!
Miss Naughton was wonderful I thought – and I loved being at school. We would read to her every morning, and we got a stamp on a card, a pansy stamp if we read well, a dog stamp if we didn’t do so well. We did phonics, and learnt to write, and sang to the children’s radio (“wireless”) program every week. We had show and tell, and special events. We went to visit the workplaces of the parents of other children in our class – we rang our mothers from the telephone exchange, and visited the butter factory and the police station and a farm or two, plus the railway station and the post office. We went to Adelaide once – in a few parents’ cars – and when there visited the road safety centre, the zoo and a puppetry performance (‘The Tintookies’ it was called). All this was very exciting.
At the end of each school year we had a concert at the local Institute Hall. Each class would put on a play. In grade one we did ‘The Sleeping Beauty’, and in grade 2 we did a very ambitious production based on a Japanese story. All the girls in the class had to wear kimonos made by our mothers. I still have mine (good grief!), and I still love the satiny fabric.
Miss Naughton was kind and encouraging and we thought her very pretty. At the start of December she introduced our class to the Advent Calendar – the first any of us knew of such things – and she had a group of statuettes of the nativity. Someone accidentally knocked the head off of one of the kings and I remember running home straight after school to get the “Bear Brand” glue – very potent stuff it was too – to take up to her so she could mend it!!
It was another time altogether (fifty years ago seems unbelievable), simpler in many ways at our small school (around 60-odd students altogether and three teachers) but for me Auburn Primary with Miss Naughton was a happy time, and I am grateful for the encouragement and care that I received there which have had a big impact on my life.
It would be lovely to hear from any of you about your favourite teachers also…