I am a retired secondary teacher and school chaplain, mother of three and grandmother of three. I write children’s picture books to encourage discussion about issues which may hinder student learning or emotional wellbeing.
My work in schools:
I began my career teaching maths in secondary schools. Classes were streamed according to ability in each subject, so students could be in the high-ability English class and the low-ability Maths class, for instance. I found teaching the lower-ability classes the most satisfying (and the most challenging).
While my children were in primary school, I volunteered at their school, helping students who were finding reading difficult. I wanted to explore how I could help these students more, so I went back to uni and studied Special Education.
My first job teaching literacy and numeracy was at TAFE. These students hadn’t completed year 10 and many came from very disadvantaged backgrounds (see my story about Melissa on my home page). There were students who’d been in prison, some had been in foster care, others were on drugs, while some had just fallen through the cracks at school and wanted a second try.
I moved from here into special needs classes in secondary schools. I was now teaching literacy and numeracy to teenagers who were in mainstream schools, but weren’t coping. There was a wide variety of students and some were just a younger version of the TAFE students. There were some who couldn’t count past twenty, others who could write little more than their name. Some came from extremely dysfunctional homes. There were refugees in the class still dealing with trauma in their childhood. Many found it hard to mix socially in the playground.
I realised that these students needed help with their social and emotional needs as much as (or possibly more than) their academic needs.
With the goal of helping such students further, I moved into chaplaincy in a primary school. Many different students come and talk with me. They needed to express their concerns and feel listened to. Sometimes these were long-term issues, sometimes just a concern on that particular day. One of these students would often draw me pictures and wrote “Thanks for chatting with me. I feel better when I talk with someone.” I feel that summed up my role there.
Since retiring from schools, I have written and recorded music for churches and shared my story.
Scruffy and Silk is my first children’s picture book.
I am based in Melbourne, Australia. I have three adult children and three granddaughters.
My husband and I enjoy camping, bushwalking, ballroom dancing and cryptic crosswords.