Recalling a lifetime of lessons taught, learnt

There is only one regret that June Watts has from her teaching career: not writing things down.

SMART COOKIE: June Watts is hanging up her teacher's hat after a long career, including 25 years at Perth Primary School. Picture: Paul Scambler

SMART COOKIE: June Watts is hanging up her teacher's hat after a long career, including 25 years at Perth Primary School. Picture: Paul Scambler

The early childhood and kindergarten teacher will teach her last ever class in 2016.

Mrs Watts has been a staple at Perth Primary School since 1991.

It is rare, Mrs Watts said, in this era for a teacher to stay at the one school for such a stretch.

“I think it’s a good thing (that teachers move around more),” she said.

“But I’ve always enjoyed all the years that I’ve been here.

“I think the pleasure has been that I’ve been part of this community, even though I don’t live here.

“I know the families really well, and I’ve gotten to the point where I’m teaching the children of some of my former students.”

Country or remote schools have been a constant part of Mrs Watts’ career. Her first post, in 1970, was a year on Flinders Island.

“For there, it was Gowrie Park. That was just when the hydro village was closing up. The numbers were down and I was moved on,” Mrs Watts said.

She kept heading west, and ended up at Queenstown, where she taught a grade 2 class.

“It was 35 kids in that class,” she said, and explained that that was quite a large class size for that era.

“It was because they put all the engineers’ kids in one separate class. I was there for just a term.”

From there she made her way into the city, and taught at Youngtown Primary School for five years.

She then took some years off, travelled, and when she returned to work in Tasmania she was married – to another teacher.

Her husband had been appointed the principal at Branxholm Primary School, and she went with him. Together they ran it as a two-teacher school.

During their five years, they watched and oversaw the introduction of prep grades.

“Basically my husband and I took the whole school of kids through from grade 1 to grade 6,” she said.

From 1979, for 10 years, she backed away from teaching, and focused on family.

Here and there, she would get called back to work, including stints at the then-Charles Street Primary School, and Flinders Island again.

She was ready to settle back into domestic life when she was begged to take an early childhood position at Perth Primary School.

“And the rest, as they say…,” she laughed.

Mrs Watts can reflect on her career with practical nostalgia, lamenting the carefree days when they would take the children for walks around the streets, but recognising the need for the safety policies strictly implemented today.

Despite all the advances in technology, she said children remained the same.

“I love all the little sayings that they have,” Mrs Watts said.

“That’s my regret, that I didn’t write every single one down. I could have published a book by now.”