Teaching is a family affair for the Paulgers...
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 7, 5 October 2018, page no. 21
As the QTU approaches its 130th birthday, it is inevitable that we look back to the generations of teachers who went before us. But for many Queensland educators, the connection is much more personal. For these members, teaching is the family business, passed down through the generations. The Paulgers are one such family – here Llew Paulger (with a little help from his siblings), describes growing up in a home dominated by the teaching profession.
Our mother, Joan O’Connor, was a primary school teacher, trained in Brisbane, who began teaching at Greenbank State School and then transferred to Kidaman Creek State School, near Kenilworth on the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
It was here that she met our father and they were married. As was the state of the day, once she was married she was unable to continue working. This was also the time when our parents started a family, while running their dairy farm in Kidaman Creek. Over the years, they moved to farms in Yandina and then Mapleton, while all our nine siblings attended and graduated from Nambour State High School.
We were fortunate to have parents who highly valued education. Mum, as an ex-teacher, was able to support us in our learning and while dad did not have formal education beyond his early teens, he self-educated and ensured that we engaged in our learning.
Our two oldest brothers chose engineering cadetships with the Brisbane City Council, but the next five of us pursued a career teaching in the state system. Steve chose to study maths/science at Mt Gravatt CAE, followed by Carmel, studying primary school teaching at MGCAE. Desley studied maths/science at MGCAE, I studied HPE/science at KGCAE, and Denise studied commerce/business teaching at KGCAE/BCAE. Another younger sister started a teaching qualification at QUT but soon left this to enter the public service. Our youngest sister chose economics/law.
I believe that we all chose a career in teaching as we were very fortunate to have some amazing teachers who had significant influences over our time at both primary and high school. We had an amazing science faculty at the time, as well as some outstanding HPE staff who were true inspirations for me.
Denise always knew from very early on that she wanted to be a teacher – much to the frustration of younger siblings who had to be her students during early play. It was not until high school and being inspired by her commerce teachers that she decided that was her pathway. Such was her determination to teach that she went directly into education rather than the much-recommended university/teacher college pathway.
We have all pursued our careers throughout the state of Queensland, and this has resulted in three of the family pursuing promotional advancement and now serving as principals. Steve is principal at Mackay SHS, Denise is currently principal at Forest Lake SHS and I am currently principal at Kelvin Grove State College. Carmel is a primary school teacher on the Sunshine Coast and Desley still works as a school chaplain across three schools in Moranbah.
The experiences we have shared have resulted in the next generation of teachers from the family coming through, with two more HPE teachers beginning their careers in Townsville and Tully in recent years.
Growing up in a family of teachers gave us a great life and enabled us to stay connected over the years, able to make sure we have quality family time throughout the year and at Christmas time when everyone returned to the family home. Too bad if you came to one of our family BBQs and wanted to have a break and avoid talking "shop"!
Throughout our careers, we have all been members of the QTU and been advocates for the support provided to ensuring our workforce is respected, supported and valued in the community. This has ensured we have all had extremely rewarding careers and experiences supporting students and staff.
The relationship with the QTU through the leadership journey has always been reassuring, clarifying and supportive for us. Having an excellent relationship with the QTU is vital in ensuring that all staff within our schools are supported and able to work their magic with the students in their charge.
Come from a long line of teachers? Why not share your family's story too?
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