DipTeach(NSW) BEd GradDipSc(TeacherLibrarianship)(ECU) ST2
Before joining Christ Church in 1999, Mary worked at schools in NSW’s Snowy Mountains, followed by various Perth schools as a classroom teacher, music and remedial reading teacher. During a break of a few years to have children, Mary also enjoyed living in England, Germany, Egypt and Botswana. A few years after returning to Perth, she went back to university to study Teacher Librarianship, in which she is now completing a Masters.
When she came to Christ Church, Mary worked alone in the library. “I gradually built up a wonderful supporting band of mothers who helped in the many library tasks and eventually the School employed a part-time library assistant which, over time, progressed to a part-time library technician, then two part-time library technicians,” Mary said. “Last year this increased again with the addition of a part-time teacher librarian to cope with increased numbers of boys. I now work in a library team of four staff who are very dedicated to achieving the best for our boys.”
Mary’s 10 years in the library have been complemented by many other aspects of Christ Church life, including football coach, hockey coach and water polo co-ordinator, as well as running the Book Club each year, which happens to be the only consistent one around the local area. She also co-ordinates Clean Up Australia for the Prep School, organises Book Week activities across the School, sings in the staff choir, joins in different committees with the staff, is Stirling House Head Teacher and co-ordinates the Inquiry area of Society and Environment for Years 1 to 7. Mary is also involved in professional organisations and networks outside the School to do with Teacher Librarianship.
Mary aims to be an inspiration to the boys, including those who tend to enjoy playing sport rather than reading books. “I hope that I inspire boys to read and to challenge their reading habits to extend their skills and understanding of literature,” Mary explained. “Having the desire to read and enjoy books is one of the most valuable pastimes we can develop, allowing for relaxation and healthy leisure as well as the expansion of minds into realms unknown. I have always loved sport and through my involvement in the School’s sporting programme, I hope to challenge the beliefs of reluctant readers who think that sport and reading don’t mix. It’s possible to love both.”
The benefits boys get from the Prep Library extend well beyond school life. “Skills learnt in the Prep Library such as research skills are the basis for life-long learning, and knowledge about authors and illustrators enables boys to connect with books that they see outside school, in other libraries, the media and shops,” Mary said. “The more they are involved with books and literature at a young age, the more chance they will have of developing a love of literature in the future.”
Mary said her most enjoyable moments at Christ Church were when she spent time talking to the boys and developing a rapport with them, laughing and chatting about life. “In my role as Head Teacher for Stirling House, I am constantly organising aspects of the running of the House with boys. It is a joy to see them so devoted to their role, and working with them, supporting and developing their ideas, is very rewarding.
“Another great joy has been working with an outstanding group of boys in water polo,” Mary said. “Their enthusiasm for the game is infectious and it’s always difficult to end the season. The other aspect of my role that I enjoy is helping boys who become library monitors to develop their self confidence, while contributing their time and effort to help in many and varied tasks. I have often seen boys shining in this role, then going on to be far more involved in the life of the School in the future. It’s inspiring when this happens.”
Mary gets huge fulfilment in seeing the boys happy and engaged. “Life and teaching isn’t always rosy and so it’s a privilege to be able to see that you’ve helped boys and staff along the way to become confident and more sure of themselves in whatever they’re doing. Christ Church is certainly a place that supports this philosophy.”