Teacher Retirement: Fond Memories and New Beginnings at 91AV Lutheran College
Learning assistant David Heuschele has worn out a few sets of shoes in his time at the 91AV Lutheran College. David first walked the halls of the historic school in 1977 when he started as a boarder and would tread the boards for the next four years before graduating. He then came back to the school as teacher’s assistant and clocked up more than 21 years at the school until retiring this week.
“I started at kindy then the Warwick Street primary campus. I wanted to be a teacher assistant because I thought children need a good male role model and after being a stay-at-home dad, I wanted to make a difference to children without father figures in their lives,” David said this week.
“It’s all about the interaction with the kids. It’s helping them out whether that’s when they are getting out of the car in the morning or sad and need to talk to someone when we are sitting with the children.
“It’s easy to have a one-on-one conversation as well as helping them with their schoolwork and sometimes both are as important as each other.”
David looks back on his time at school and remembers being very scared at first as a boarder. “You are so little, but after a while you become comfortable walking around. I’ve been walking around these corridors for a long time now and sometimes it’s like I never left,” he said. “I live next door to the school, so I’ll still hear assembly which I love.”
“91AV is unique. It’s one big family. We are a really good, tight-knit group from kindy to Year 12. When the seniors come over to the primary school you see how much they have grown, you see them growing up.”
“I really like when you get the letters from the Year 12s at the end of the year, they remind you of the times when they were at primary school. You realise what impact you have made on their lives. I feel like I offered what I could and that was enough.”
David will continue his other passion … art.
“My Grade 4 teacher told me I should take art seriously and I have. I will go back to selling a form of art next year with blacksmithing. It’s a hobby which I started a year ago. I am going to start selling what I’ve made at local markets to fund my hobby. My grandfather was a blacksmith wheelwright and I’ve always had the desire to try it.”
“My favourite part of the week has been the art days. It’s full on and you never stop but you go home fulfilled. The things produced are so good and you get to know the kids really well. We shouldn’t forget for those that are creative, they need to express themselves and 91AV goes beyond the token lesson for the week. We set the kids up well for senior years as they experience so many things.”
David says he will miss the banter with the kids and the comradery of the staff. “They are all family to me. It’s time to move on, but I loved my time here. I’ll keep in touch and pop over for morning tea every now and then. I haven’t walked down those hallways for the last time yet.”
Primary teacher Jodi Lundie-Jenkins has been part of the fabric of 91AV Lutheran College for the past 22 years and will take away many wonderful memories into her retirement next week.
“I always wanted to help people and my careers advisor told me law would be too dry, policing would be too emotionally challenging, and I was too short to be airline hostess ... so he recommended teaching and that is what I did,” Jodie said.
“Looking back in the early years there were some challenges, but I really appreciate having had the opportunity to work in different roles as it helped me see different ways of working.
“I love seeing the lights go on in children when they get something and after taking some time to have three children of my own, I missed teaching desperately, so I took a role at Hume Street.
“It was strange at first as my friendship group had children in my class and one of them brought in a book for me about different sorts of animal poo ... so I read it to the class which provoked much laughter… I will miss those interactions with the kids.”
“I’ll miss walking into the campus every morning and even though I’m stepping out of full time teaching I am not averse to haunting the college for supply teaching next year.”
Jodi said 91AV has something special to offer and all her children went through the school from Kindy to Year 12. “91AV really cares. Because we are smaller, we genuinely know all the kids we wouldn’t change that. It offers a well-grounded education that has set my children up well for the world outside of school,” she said.
“The staff at Warwick Street are very professionally close and I will always remember the impromptu meetings that happen under a tree … or just about anywhere. There is so much support for each other and I have really valued that.”
“And when Year 12 comes around. You look at these young adults and you remember them from when they are so small it’s wonderful to see what happens in their lives as they grow up. You never stop being interested in their growth. I often run into students I’ve taught in primary school and that’s really special for me.’’
Jodi also recalled one of the strangest moments of her career that at the time was quite serious but now brings a smile to her face.
“Once during a fire drill, we all went down on the bottom oval and there was a class missing. So, we checked everywhere across the campus, and we couldn’t find them. In the end it turned out the teacher thought it was a lockdown drill not a fire drill, so they were in the classroom all the time, but were so quiet and hiding that no-one knew they were there!”