We have two children attending West Port High School. One has progressed through the high achievers stream, while the other is located in the Support Unit. Both our girls are provided positive educational experiences which will prepare them for life beyond the classroom. They are challenged, encouraged and supported, in the holistic sense, by educators who are passionate and compassionate about supporting individual growth – in the classroom as well as the greater community.”
‘The best days of your life are your school days” according to the old saying. Not everyone will agree, of course, but for a group of students who went to school here and came back as high school teachers to our public schools, the best days are every day. For this group, teaching in their hometown became their career path of choice and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
The group pictured went to either Port Macquarie High School or Westport High School and were so inspired by teachers at their schools that they decided that teaching was the occupation for them. Some were surprised to find themselves teaching back at their Alma Mater.
Kirsty Simpson, who is acting head teacher of the Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE) department at Westport High School, remembers the exciting lessons in the late Wayne Richards Class at Port High. “Mr. Richards was my inspiration,” Kirsty admits. “I now love teaching and I welcome change as a positive thing.
Andrew McManus went to Port Macquarie High School also but after a few years at places like Tottenham and Melville he came back to Westport High School and is now the Head Teacher of Administration. “It was my father who inspired me,” admits Andrew. “My best memory of school was playing hockey and beating Grafton in the State Knockout. I remember teaching my little sister Maths when she was stuck and I enjoyed doing that. I tell my students that the road ahead is one of life long learning and you have to keep at it to achieve. I see the strengths of both schools as being all-inclusive and they give students a well-rounded education teaching tolerance and acceptance. I also look forward to the early start, which will allow more time in the afternoons to do things.”
Scott Henderson went to Westport High School and gives teachers Wayne Bourke, Graham Ross and Grant Lumley credit for inspiring him to become a teacher. “The staff here are dedicated and excellent at what they do,” Scott said. “They show a genuine interest in the lives of their students. The new college carries the potential for better outcomes.”
Linda Best is the head teacher of English at Westport High School and she has fond memories of her English teachers at Port High. “Every English teacher inspired me as did my history teacher Alan Weiley,” Linda said. “The challenge for us as teachers in the new college will be to keep the kids engaged and motivated. We’re the ones making the connections between students and learning.”
Simone Bawden, who is a former student of Westport High School and is now teaching here, said that the now retired Wayne Bourke was her inspiration. “Mr. Bourke still takes the time to stop and talk to all his ex-students whenever he sees them. All of my teachers at Westport were fantastic. As a targeted graduate I will be moved to another school next year. I would love to stay here because this is where my family is.”
Beth Mooney’s favourite subject was Geography when she was a student at Westport. “Geography is still my favourite subject and it’s what I teach, thanks to the inspiration of my teachers Mr. and Mrs. Ross,” Beth said. “Kids face similar challenges as we did but they live in a more complicated world. I like the concept of the new college and the kids I spoke with are getting behind the college idea. Their parents are excited about it too.”
Jess McCloskey loved being a student at Port Macquarie High School but came back to teach at Westport High School. “I was attracted to Westport High School,” Jess admits, “After I did one of my university practicums here.”
Jess travelled and taught in London for two years before coming back to Port Macquarie in 2014. “Ms. Guthrie and Mr. Fowler were my two biggest inspirations to become a teacher,” Jess said. “I also admire Jenny Nalder, who worked in the school canteen while I was there. She has such a kind, caring and big heart and still keeps in contact and follows my journey through life even ten years later. I love working at Westport High School and would love to continue to help make our Hastings Secondary College the success it should be, creating opportunities that have not been possible in the past. I would love to see pride in public education in Port Macquarie continue. Also, I have worked in schools in the U.K. that began their school days earlier and have seen the students thrive because of it.”