Love of learning drives relief teacher, 73

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian

Doing something you really enjoy and getting paid for it is the key to life, according to 73-year-old Bluff Point Primary School relief teacher Terry O’Toole.

Recently recognised for 20 years of WA public education service by the State School Teachers Union of WA, Mr O’Toole reflected on more than 30 years in the primary education sector, from large classrooms in the Eastern States to smaller numbers in Yalgoo.

He said what was most noteworthy about his long career at a variety of Geraldton and Mid West schools was seeing the growth of his former students.

“I ran into a former student of mine who was so excited to tell me all about his job on the mines and how much money he’s making,” Mr O’Toole said.

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“He had gotten married, started a family, recently bought a house. It was really great to see how he had grown.”

Aside from watching transformations from primary school students to adults, Mr O’Toole said his long career had helped him gain a wealth of experience across the curriculum, from English to maths, to science and sport.

He said of all the subjects he had taught, he hoped the one thing that stuck with his students was the ability to appreciate learning.

“As a teacher, you get students from all different kinds of backgrounds, and you can’t always help them in their personal lives, but you can look after them in the classroom, help them make the right choices and teach them to have a positive outlook,” he said.

“It’s more than just being a top-of-the-range academic, it’s about perseverance and appreciating learning.

“I always tell my students, never say no to an opportunity, take them when they arrive because they don’t always come back.”

Mr O’Toole graduated from the University of Wollongong, played for the Mittagong Lions Rugby League Football Club, and was president of the Japan Australia Society.

Shortly after relocating to WA, Mr O’Toole became one of the first members of Fremantle Football Club, in 1995.

He hopes the flag goes to the Dockers in 2018.

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