Second chance at happiness for Sue Cobb
Sue Cobb firmly believes in second chances, innovation and real life engaging activities that motivate and inspire. Sue; an educator first and foremost, knows that building strong relationships with students helps motivate them to achieve their best.
This strong conviction has brought with it many rewards.
She has seen kids glow with pride and a sense of achievement and has had the satisfaction of following their progress through to adult life.
For Sue Cobb, recently retired but not cutting all ties, teaching has been a career that has spanned 40 years. It has been more than just a career; teaching has been her passion and at times, her lifeline.
Within the community of the Chinchilla State School, Sue has forged strong bonds and enduring friendships. She has nothing but love and praise for the staff; everyone from teachers, support workers, cleaners, janitors and groundsmen has contributed both to her career and to her healing.
Chinchilla first became home in 1976 when Sue came here as the young bride of local farmer, Graeme Cobb.
School life began in 1977 with blackboards and chalk and wooden desks bolted to the floor. From the onset Sue sought to produce the best outcomes for her pupils.
“Teaching is a partnership,” Sue says.
“It’s important to form close relationships with students, parents and families. Knowing their ups and downs and what they are going through.”
As a local, Sue has felt the pain of working through fire, floods and droughts, family breakdowns and losses and the joy of celebrating happy events.
Sue took a brief break from teaching between 1984 and 1990 to raise her own family.
She then worked at St Joseph’s school for a number of years before travelling the southwest region as an Educational Adviser with the Support Centre at the time, specialising in maths. But classroom teaching and connecting with students was always Sue’s main focus and she returned to CSS in 1998.
Sue maintains there are always ways to reach out to even the most introverted students.
“Kids just want someone to take an interest in them and show them some love and kindness. Working with the wonderful teachers and staff at CSS has been very gratifying. They all love kids and want to see them grow,” Sue says.
“Teaching can be a tough gig but the rewards are great.”
“My approach was always to try to be a creative teacher, planning and developing units geared especially for my students using real life activities that were hands on and engaging. I loved encouraging them to take different approaches to learning by exploring their interests and discovering their individual learning styles.”
Some of her best memories include school camps and excursions, go cart races, growing giant watermelons, and transition days into high school. One year her class watched “Cool Runnings” the true story of the Jamaican bobsleigh team.
She set students the task of building their own bobsleighs and it became one of the more memorable events in school history. Many weird and wonderful bobsleighs competed annually in a race down the hill under the administration building, with parents and staff cheering them on. “You couldn’t do that today,” Sue says with regret. “Times have changed and I doubt this activity would comply with new health and safety regulations!”
Over the past several years Sue has had a couple of false starts at retirement. “The decision to retire was a really hard one. I lost Graeme to suicide in 2013 after he’d spent a very long period battling severe depression. Since losing a loving husband of 37 years, I have had to learn to find myself again.”
“Depression is such a debilitating illness and it’s hard not only on those who suffer but the families who love and support them. After Graeme’s death, I was in an emotional stalemate. Even the thought of selling the farm and moving on paralysed me with fear.”
“After a period of leave, overseas travel and time spent in the garden, I found insightful Kinesiology sessions also helped me realise how I had for a number of years, lost myself in work. I finally realised it was time to move on and I was ready!”
“I haven’t totally given up on my passion though, as I tutor some very special students and love it! You really don’t know what is around the corner, so I now try my best to live in the present.”
“Looking back, I don’t know how I would have coped without the support of my wonderful children and their families, the school, the community and some very special people in my life. There are many and I won’t try to name them, but they know who they are.”
With retirement comes time for family and some of Sue’s favourite pastimes and being the community minded person she is, a little volunteering too. Sue is a member of Friends of the Botanical Gardens and also gives her time to Meals on Wheels. She is an avid gardener and hopes to travel in the future. Egypt and Italy are on her list of places to visit.
If anyone deserves a second chance at happiness, it’s Sue Cobb.