Chinchilla State School prep teacher Cathy Clark retired on Friday   after 45 years of teaching.
Chinchilla State School prep teacher Cathy Clark retired on Friday after 45 years of teaching. Brooke Duncan

Teacher reflects on 45 years

CHINCHILLA State School teacher Cathy Clark taught her last lesson on Friday after 45 years of service.

After getting her start in Brisbane, Mrs Clark moved out west, teaching in Warra, Brigalow, Hopeland and Chinchilla.

At first, Mrs Clark said the regional transfer was a bit of a shock.

"It had it's challenges but it was so much fun in those days,” she said.

"The social life of small country towns, there was a ball every weekend, a proper dance ball, and you'd go to Warra one week and then Jandowae the next week and Bell the next week and Canaga the next week and the circuit just went so, and all the young people went... so we had a really, really good social life.”

Mrs Clark's mother was a teacher, and coming from a big family, she'd always considered teaching a good career to pursue.

"I was used to having little brothers and sisters and doing things with them... and as I had my own children I realised the importance of the development of a young child,” she said.

Mrs Clark married a local Warra farmer, and had two boys, one now with a son himself.

Looking back, Mrs Clark said she's witnessed many changes to education and the curriculum.

"When I started we were in bolt-down desks on bare floors and now we have bright, colourful, and wonderful facilities, so that has changed,” she said.

"Also the teaching is more individualised so that you cater better for the needs of all students rather than a set curriculum.

"Hands-on is particularly a strong way of learning in early childhood, actually getting them to touch things and make things rather than just listening.

"I think also just believing that the child is capable, that if you go in with the attitude 'they'll be able to do it', they step up to the mark and do it for you, and they're very creative.”

As she retires, Mrs Clark has a message for all the students she's taught over the years.

"I love to see them down the street, I love it when they approach me and say hello and tell me about their achievements,” she said.

"I guess they've made my life very fulfilled, you think about them, you see them come in as such tiny little things, and they are so enthusiastic that they pass that enthusiasm onto you so that they've kept me young, they've kept me interested in life, and they've fulfilled my life in many ways just by being themselves.

"I think that's part of teaching, is that we get from the children as much as we give.

"And they're so cute, I don't know that I could teach grade 12s!”

Now retired, Mrs Clark said she and her husband plan to travel and spend time with their grandson.

"And probably being a side-kick on the farm, I'm not so keen on that!” she said.

"I want to do lots of gardening, I've built a big garden at our place and it needs lots of nurturing.”