Celebrating an amazing impact

Penrith Public School’s long-serving teachers reflect on their careers and share insights into the critical roles they play in the community this World Teachers’ Day, Olivia Grey reports.

A group of four adults standing against a wall A group of four adults standing against a wall
Image: Inspired by their students, Penrith Public School teachers from left, Elizabeth Hayward, Carol Bagnell, John Emmingham and Lacey Power.

For Elizabeth Hayward, John Emmingham and Carol Bagnell from Penrith Public School, education has provided a rich and diverse career. From humble beginnings as young teachers in the 70s, to helping pave the way for the next generation, each has the same answer when asked why they’ve stayed in the job for more than a century between them: the kids.

Ms Hayward has spent almost 30 years at Penrith Public School. Now focused on supporting students in internet safety in a part-time capacity, she has spent the past three decades in a variety of specialties across the school, including as classroom teacher and music teacher.

With her current focus on teaching students the importance of safe use of technology, Ms Hayward has continually upskilled herself throughout her career, but one thing has remained constant; her love for the little learners she gets to work with each day, and respect and admiration for her fellow teachers.

“The students and staff at Penrith Public School are like no other. I love coming to work each day, and there’s a reason I haven’t retired yet,” Ms Hayward said.

“It’s an honour to impart knowledge to the children, and I truly see teaching as not just my job, but my hobby.”

For Ms Bagnell, the ability to form relationships with students and families, and help them become successful learners and people was the best part of her role.

“I’ve been a teacher for over 40 years and have spent the majority of my career here at Penrith Public School. It’s the kids that keep us here and it’s an honour to teach them and be part of their lives,” Ms Bagnell said.

Known as Mr E to students, Mr Emmingham has seen a lot of change in his time as a teacher, but one thing that remains constant is his love for his students. Now a sports teacher, Mr Emmingham has written musicals and songs for students, runs the annual talent quest and, according to fellow staff members, can often be seen walking through the school with a trail of laughing children behind him.

“Being a teacher gives us a unique opportunity to play a really important role in the lives of kids; I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Mr Emmingham said.

While Lacey Power hasn’t quite hit the tenure of her fellow colleagues, she has spent her entire teaching career at Penrith Public School, and was a student herself taught by Ms Hayward, Ms Bagnell and Mr Emmingham.

“When I was a student here at Penrith, I had some challenges with my learning. Time, effort and encouragement from so many amazing teachers helped me become a successful learner. This is what inspired me to become a teacher,” Ms Power said.

After more than 15 years in teaching, all of them spent at Penrith Public School, Ms Power says the highlight remains the growth and development of students and seeing them succeed.

“I love the relationships we get to form with the kids. Seeing a student change, grow and learn as they go through school is so special. There are not many jobs that allow you to impact someone’s life so significantly, and teaching is one of them,” she said.

This World Teachers’ Day, we recognise the impact teachers make through their work, and no one says it better than Secretary, Murat Dizdar:

“Our teachers make such a significant daily difference to young lives, and many of us wanted to be that teacher that had an important impact.

“World Teachers Day is a great opportunity to recognise the enormous work of our 95,000 public school teachers in NSW.

“There is nothing more important than educating the future generations of kids. To teach is to touch lives forever, and your dedication to teaching is appreciated today and every day.

“Thank you to all the wonderful teachers and a very Happy World Teachers’ Day.”

To see messages from students across the state, or to send a message to an amazing teacher this World Teachers’ Day, visit the NESA website.

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