Glenda Carson

Glenda Carson (nee Powell) was born in 1947 at Windsor, New South Wales. She grew up in Bilpin and attended Richmond High School from 1960 to 1964. She returned to teach at the school in 1968. This is the story of her time at Richmond High School. Glenda remembers her first day at the school.
“I was, so excited. I remember going into that hall which was the gym and sitting in there waiting to hear my name being called out and being as nervous as anything because I really wanted to be in the top class and that was when we had A, B, C and I was, I was in 1A and I remember being called out in the group and going out with this group. I loved it. That was my first day.

Mr Beatty was the headmaster when I was first at school. I don’t think we had a lot of choice in subjects. We had the standard English, Maths, we did French, PE, which was the best one of course and whatever else went. Geography and History I remember, just standard subjects.

At that time the school was all demountable buildings, spread out, the quadrangle was all sort of cement but it had seats around the edge of it because when we got there in the mornings, we always used to go to the quadrangle seats and sit down there and talk. The canteen was down the far end of the quadrangle. Demountables, demountables, which was really funny because it was the main school in the District. Playing fields up the far side, and generally speaking, hot. I remember it being glaringly bright and hot. I mean we started school in the beginning of February and it was hot. There was a quadrangle and the flag pole in the middle and there was a little shed in the middle with bubblers in it. The buildings were very very square, very straight rows of seats.
The demountable buildings were hot. You had to go upstairs to get in them. They had those dreadful windows that you pull up by putting two hands either side and they immediately came back down again unless you propped something or someone in the window to keep it open. No fly screens or anything like that, just straight up windows, sash windows that would fall down again. The classrooms were hot, they were not airconditioned. They were noisy if you had a noisy class but I was in a class all the time that were just absolute pieces of Christmas cake. We all sat up there doing the right thing. So that we didn’t have noisy classes as such but there was no insulation for noise, no insulation for heat, nothing like that. They were just demountable buildings that were hot in summer but very very cold in winter. Grey, I remember grey, very much grey. No inspirational colours and of course the big blackboard out the front and chalk dust everywhere and the odd teacher who could throw either the chalk or the blackboard duster.

There were quite a few teachers that made an impression on me because I was one of these starry-eyed people that never did anything wrong and wanted to learn. We had Tom Dobinson as our history teacher and I still remember some of his lessons. Many years later when I went to England I saw different things that he’d talked about in our history lesson. I remember Mrs Price who was softly spoken and could be heard in our classroom because we were all in awe of how much she seemed to know. The Maths and English all went on the same way. We just lapped up the information, couldn’t wait to do the homework. None of us ever wanted to get into trouble. 

Our class was full of real “goodie goodie yum yums” – so perfect. In our class, very few people got into trouble if you didn’t do your homework. But see we had more than an hour on the bus, home and back. All our homework got done. But there were other kids who had plenty of things, otherwise to occupy them, interesting things in their lives, not just bus travel. And they might not have got their homework done. So that was something you might have got a detention for. I know kids still got the cane and I’m sure there were plenty of reasons why they got the cane. But from my “school going” time there were times when a couple of boys came back into the classroom holding their hand. 

When it came to my final year at school, 5th Year I was school captain. One day when I was out on gate duty, with the other school captain, Ian, someone had told us that someone in our class, had VD, had venereal disease and of course I said “What’s a venereal disease?” I’d never heard of it and then lo and behold I got the lesson didn’t I on what a venereal disease was. It just was beyond my imagination, the only way she could have got that was through sexual intercourse. Cause I couldn’t believe anyone at school would do that. We were so damn innocent. There was no sex education to speak of. I think there were nights when our parents went and we were invited along and the whole thing was about washing your hands before you used a tampon. That was about the extent of our sex education.

My favourite subject was PE [Physical Education]. I loved it from the word go – couldn’t wait to get there. Couldn’t believe you’d be allowed to do that sort of thing in school because it was so much fun. But generally speaking I enjoyed nearly everything. I enjoyed maths. I thought maths was a wonderful challenge. The unfavourite was French, but apart from that, no I loved history, I liked English, I liked maths, nearly all of them. 

Betty Maclean was my PE teacher – still remember her. I remember the lessons and they were so formally structured. However, she got a group of us together, I was in Form 1 [now Year 7 or 8] when she got a group of people from right through the school to perform this dance down on the oval in Richmond and it was a big day. There were people up in the stands and everywhere, and we performed to Strauss’ waltz. The funny thing was, for her to get the music to go, she had the power coming off the battery in the car, but it wouldn’t work unless she had the car going and because the car was going to get the music to go, it made the record jump. So here we were, 70 of us out there, supposed to be all in time. We’d practised and practised and practised this thing and the music kept jumping so we had to leave bits out which some people weren’t really sure about but we still did it. It was done, it was a great day.

I loved sports carnivals. All the athletics, I got into. But all of the PE lessons and all of the sport. I played hockey. Gwen Bassingthwaite – good old Mrs Bass was our hockey coach and – she was at least 90 in the shade when I was in Form 1 and to think of her running around with her hockey stick which was fatter than her, but I played hockey and absolutely loved it. It was just a good time. I remember going up to Camp McKay for swimming. That was during sport – again, Gwen Bassingthwaite, in a swimming costume, for God’s sake – up there and us swimming in that cold cold water at Camp McKay and doing swimming awards and that was an incredible achievement getting any basic award because the water was, like you’d freeze your bloomin’ towel off to get in it, let alone swimming in it, and having to do.

Mrs Bass and her “Bassmobile” – wasn’t she funny. She would go so fast in the gate. She was a little old lady and she would come screaming – that Bassmobile was a huge big Oldsmobile, something like that with big wing things on the side and she’d just come in the gate in the morning so fast and then park. Everyone would need to get right out of the way when she was even approaching the area, and here’s this little old lady getting out of this screamingly fast car. She was a funny thing wasn’t she and she had such a tender voice. She obviously gave up a lot of her own time, when you look back now and think she was helping us with hockey, coaching hockey after school. Yeh, she was a funny lady, a dedicated lady.

At lunchtime, I always used to go and sit in the quadrangle. I hardly ever went to the canteen because my lunch was always packed for me. It was only a special thing if I went to the canteen for anything and Maureen Metherill was one of my, friends used to get together, Caroline, Maureen, Lynette. We used to just sit in the quadrangle and talk. I don’t know what we talked about. I do remember at one stage, Maureen met this fellow and she used to go and talk to him and we thought it was pretty strange that she didn’t come and sit with us. She’d prefer to go and talk to him, in the quadrangle, in another part of it of course, so we couldn’t hear. I can’t remember playing much sport or doing other things in lunchtime.”

Glenda remembers it was difficult to keep lunches appetising as food was kept in school bags. “Oh, you just eat it. It was horrible. It was really horrible but I guess that’s why in the end you never put on weight, did you. It was easy not to put on weight because lunch was soggy peanut butter sandwiches. I distinctly remember the peanut butter. I suppose cause that’s the only thing that was edible then because if you had had any salad, it would have gone soggy. But I just had sandwiches and as we lived on an apple orchard we always had an apple. If I was ever given any money, which wasn’t very often, because our family were not well off, I would save that till when we walked from the school right down to the main street which was a long walk. I used to spend the money down there getting an ice block or something before you got on the bus cause the bus didn’t come till a quarter to four.”

Sport carnivals were a major event for the school and the town as the school marched through the town. “The year I was school captain we had to lead the march. I mean how archaic is it getting four houses and getting kids to practise bloomin’ marching. There were four “houses” – Macquarie, Grose, Evans and Philip. I was in Macquarie, it was green and for anything up to three or four weeks before the carnival, everybody came out and went to their house area and you all got lined up and put in your size of your height so that for some strange reason, it started with tall went down to the short, and up to the tall again. So when I was in Form 1, I was fair plop in the middle, because I think I was the shortest person in the whole school and you had to practise this marching which was hilarious because so many people were very uncoordinated and trying to get three or four lines or whatever it is to stay level this way and that and go around corners, a joke. 

In that final year when Ian and I were captains and we had to have the school flag – had two poles either end of it, it was sort of kept – and we had some sort of strappy little thing that went round so we had to hold these sticks on either end and it was the windiest day you could imagine, and trying to keep this thing going forward and us not being swept backwards was just hilarious and we had to go down, right down the street and lead the way around the oval and then to be judged on the marching for the best house, and the best house got their name on the trophy – I mean who cares! But it was really really funny and I know the teachers used to nearly tear their hair out because it was so awful trying to train. It must have been very shortly after that they wiped that march. All the traffic was stopped, all the police were there. It was – it was the main highway, for goodness sake and we stopped all the traffic for the school, marched across and there was the RAAF band naturally as half the kids were RAAF kids and we marched, stopping the traffic, stopping the town, stopping everything else. Thank goodness they stopped the whole thing. But we did have funny memories, very funny memories of going down there and marching around the oval and then standing still while kids fainted and the kids were sick that couldn’t handle it. There it was, the big trophy was having your name put on this shield.”

Glenda remembers the school motto was “As Man Thinks So Shall He Be” but she can’t remember the school song. She remembers travelling to other schools for sports competitions.

“Oh, wasn’t that funny. You’d go to Katoomba. You’d go to school on the Wednesday with all your bus money, cause it cost a fortune to go up there. And about recess you’d have to go out of class to get on a bus to go to Katoomba in sport and of course when you played hockey, you travelled for two hours or something to get to Katoomba, get off the bus, and you’d go out to the hockey field but the trouble was the fog would roll in by then, so you could only see where you hit off, and that was hockey 1, hockey 2, hockey 3 days then So if you were up there in the middle which I always was a forward, an inner and you’d be able to see the ball then when you started and if someone gave it a good whack down the other end, you’d never know where the ball was cause the fog would come in and you couldn’t see the goal. You’d call out to your goalkeeper “Are you down there?” “Yeh” righto we’re ready to start because you just couldn’t see the other end of the field and the halves would be about 10 minutes long, so you only just get going, just feel like where you’re about to run, and swap over and then the game way over and then you’d get on the bus and come all the way back again. I mean there was hardly ever a score, it was nearly always nil-all because you didn’t have time to get the feel of the game before you had to hop on the bus and come back again. We played Nepean High, which was always fun because they were so rough and we were really glad we were armed with hockey sticks because they were not gentle people. And in those days, I know we had to travel so far, Penrith High and Nepean High. Riverstone must have been established by then and we played Rivo but it was a lot of fun, I enjoyed it, it was good fun.”

Glenda recalls ANZAC days and school assemblies:

“I didn’t like ANZAC days then. It was really funny because that was in the era when no one wanted to know too much about it and it was a real formality, ANZAC day, you had this very very boring ceremony and you had the wreaths and you associated ANZAC Day then with old men. It was really quite strange because now ANZAC day has such a significance. It didn’t then. It was not significant, it was an annoyance, interruption to our run of the mill lives and since then we’ve come to really really understand the tragedy of it all but in school, when I was in school, it was awful, nobody appreciated it.

Assemblies and people fainting – and the assembly would still go on. I’m speaking now from the point of view when I was in school. When I was in school as a student we’d have to go along to assemblies and listen and we did our bit and listened and they weren’t all that significant other than the fact that we didn’t like them much. Once I was teaching there, it was a whole new thing because I was the one who was up there giving all the sports announcements, expecting all those kids down there to be listening to me and not fainting. For goodness sake, don’t faint, you’ve got to listen to your sports announcements and know what’s going on so it took on a whole new meaning when I was teaching there. They were obviously, ridiculous to have people out there in the heat and I’m sure occupational health and safety or something or other says now that you cannot do that, but then we did. And in the winter too, remember it was so cold, and I came down from Bilpin. We were on that bus before the sun was up so you hadn’t thawed out by the time you got off the bus in the main street and walked up to the school and then you had to stand up in assembly.

Uniforms too, you know you had your uniform check. When I first started school, it was a serge tunic with three pleats across the front, a belt that you had to get your pleats straight for, to get it down and black stockings. I wore a tie nearly every day, a blazer. There must have been some time of the year that you were allowed then to wear the socks, and black shoes. I always had my shoes shiny. My shoes were cleaned with shoe polish. I cleaned my shoes, polished them with a brush and shoe polish. I wore gloves, those soft velvety sort of gloves. It was a really really, really “proper”, proper uniform. The PE uniform was blue and a white short sleeved shirt underneath and that blue, tunickey sort of thing with your house colours in ribbons around, probably exactly two inches from the hem and a cord sash, like your curtain sash, that had a tassel off the end of the belt, cord, what a scream! And your socks turned over twice in white, white, white sandshoes, oh proper, absolutely proper.” 

Glenda talks about the group she associated with: 

We were a Bilpin crowd. I don’t think we knew about peer pressure then. I used to meet at lunchtime and at recess with the Bilpin girls, and so that was a clique. When I became a prefect, you know, it was really “up your nose” as far as everybody else was concerned. I think now, when I look back, they were “cliques” of people but it didn’t occur to me then. I used to always have plenty of people around me as I was a very gregarious person then.

I wasn’t aware of any bullying when I was in school. You’ve got to realise here that we had a girls’ playground and a boys’ playground and never the twain shall meet and I was in the girls’ playground and we were just so busy laughing and talking and that sort of thing. So I was not involved very much in any of that bullying. Even on the bus, we had Dave as our bus driver. We weren’t allowed to talk on the bus, you weren’t allowed to do anything else on the bus, and people had their set seats and things and Dave kept an eye on things like that and he nipped any bullying off in the bud before it happened.

Boys and girls were in class all together but I know in some lessons we were split apart, girls’ side, boys’ side. However, I had very very fond memories, even in Form 2. I’ve got very fond memories of the boys in our class. We used to get on really really well I still remember, Len Burke, when we were all mucking around in the class before the teacher came once he was telling us about the Beatles, this group that were in England and “they’re really big”. Other people had heard of them and he’d heard some of their music and we were listening to him telling us that this Beatles group were in existence. Well we were a mixed group then, Graham MacRae, and I played tennis at the weekends with a mixed team, boys from our class. We had school socials, we had dance classes in PE but then I used to regularly go to the Bilpin dances on a Saturday night so dancing was to me the biggest lot of fun of all time. There was no awkwardness, no difficulty.”

It was a new era for music and fashion and hairstyles:

“That hair, it’s a wonder I’ve still got hair on my head now because of teasing it. You’d back comb, backcomb and then smooth off the top of it. It was very bouffant hair. When I was in Form 2, it must have been, I used to curl my hair under, it was a little bit longer and I used to have a part down the middle, a straight fringe across and it used to come down and curl under and I had every hair right in place because every bit of the curl all underneath, so I must have slept in rollers or something. 

The wearing of the fashion, and the shoes and wasn’t that a scream. I remember minis but that was when I was actually teaching back there at Richmond High School. The fashion was just right up my alley. I’d had three years away, to get a bit of money behind me and I had my own income then, and I was on a good wage when I was teaching and I was able to get what I wanted and I used to have all these fabulous coloured skirts which were exactly the same as your going out skirts, so I used to have matching leather skirts with leather jackets. I had a bright yellow pleated one that went with a chocolate brown top and I used to take my sandshoes off and put my boots on so that was my PE uniform when I had my joggers on and going out gear which was the same length, really short, short short short. But when I was in school as a student, short short was not on! Oh no, it was a lot longer, knee length and under the knee length then. But when I hit teaching, that was about ’68, short was really in and it was right up my alley. I felt like I was a million dollars in all my PE gear. I had so many different colours and at one stage I think I had 14 different coloured pairs of joggers cause I had my joggers all matching my gear. What fun all those fashions were.”

Glenda was voted School Captain in 1964:

I was already a prefect the year before because you always had four prefects from the previous year. I was a Fourth Year [Year 11] prefect. Then when it came to the school captain process, the whole school votes, as well as the staff and it’s a weighted vote. I think the staff votes all counted for six points each, the senior year, our own year, counted for five respectively down, so that the first year kids, or Year 7 as we know it now, their vote counted as one. The entire school had to vote. I do remember prior to the voting, we had to stand up and a speech. I remember being on the assembly at the time that it was announced and I was quite surprised and absolutely delighted. Then on the way home that day, on the bus, Dave, our bus driver, stopped the whole bus at Kurrajong Heights and made a speech to the whole lot of the kids and everybody on the bus saying how proud we all were that one of us was the school captain and we all had three cheers and then we drove on home again. It was really exciting.

The male captain was Ian Woods, and Maree Harrower and Len Frost were vice-captains and we all got on so well. We were given a lot of privileges and recognition. We had this prefects’ camp. We interacted with the prefects like a sister school type thing with Cronulla High School. It gave me an enormous amount of confidence for the rest of my life. I felt that our school, Richmond High School, to me that was as good a school as you got anywhere. We were better than any private schools and we were recognised as one of the best schools around and I figured if I could have been school captain, I could do anything and I could face anyone and it gave me that attitude for the rest of my life. I was never held back.” 

When Glenda finished school in 1964 she trained as a teacher at Wollongong and returned to Richmond High School as a PE teacher in 1968. Just prior to her return she was seriously injured in a traffic accident.

“I had this horrendous car smash driving a mini and smashed my entire body physically, five breaks in my foot and a smashed elbow and many many other injuries so as a PE teacher it was fairly difficult. My first appointment was actually at Bonnyrigg. They moved me back to Richmond so that I could re-affiliate with familiar people and surroundings while I recovered. So when I went back there, I was kind of being looked after a little bit because I was still fairly severely injured. I was so keen, oh, so happy to be back at the school anyway. It was a very different feeling being on equal footing with the teachers. It was very hard to call Mrs Bass “Gwen”. Very very difficult to get first name with teachers whom I respected so much. The school itself physically, I don’t think much had changed at all because I remember as a PE teacher I had to go out and try and get the mower in and mow a square that we could mark out a softball diamond on so not much had been done about the grounds. And it was still spread out. The gymnasium was exactly the same. The demountables behind it were exactly the same. There wasn’t in those three years a huge change to the physical appearance of the school. Emotionally, totally different being in the role of the teacher back at the school I’d gone to.

The Headmaster was Stan Wick. So encouraging, lovely man, a real gentleman, clean cut, very very nice man and very encouraging. In those days then as a first year out teacher, I had to be inspected in my first year to get my certificate. He was really encouraging then and I remember the inspection day. It was actually my 21st birthday when the inspector came and I got an absolutely glowing report but I think that was from encouragement that I’d had from everyone. And the kids, oh, great.

A few things about it I do remember was some of the logs were numbered because we didn’t have enough classrooms so you might have to go to Log Number 3 for your classroom and sit outside and have your lesson and some of my classes when I look back now, they were huge. That was the way it went then so some of my classes were enormous, but somehow or other I coped really really well. I don’t think teachers would even dream of even attempting it now. And gear was limited – like basketball now you have a ball between two or a ball each. Like there were about six balls, for the whole class. I remember struggling and struggling and struggling when I first got there to get equipment.

My very first day of teaching, there was one office on the side of the gymnasium which was supposed to be shared. It was the PE office right near the change room. I went in there, before my first class and said good morning to Rod [Payne], who was already in there but he’d already had his desk in the area. It was all set up as an SP bookie’s office. Well, of course, when you’re a student, you don’t realise quite what’s going on in the background. I came in there, put my books down, went out to meet my first class. By the time I’d come back in, he’d just swept all my stuff off and went straight into the bin right beside the desk. And he virtually told me I couldn’t come in to the office. Well, I was a pretty determined person. I reckoned that office was half mine and I had keys to it anyway so I just kept going back in there and put my things out of the bin, put them back on the desk so eventually I was actually allowed to use that office occasionally when I wanted to. I had my timetable set up in there and I had my program – all my lessons were all set out that I had for every warm-up, every main bit, the skills practices, the main game, everything for every lesson, the equipment I was using, where I’d be, all the paperwork there. Well I had to keep it where I could get hold of it and so I set it up in that – so after a while, I had my spot and Rod and I never really saw eye to eye on anything.

Mr Freeman was the deputy headmaster and his line was music and he didn’t see any value whatsoever in anyone doing anything more than a walk. He figured I didn’t do anything so that was why he thought that I was teaching something that was quite useless. He didn’t know I coached any teams. He never saw me working at the weekends. He never saw me working after school. He gave me spelling to correct because he figured that I didn’t do anything useful so I had to mark all the spelling tests. When they were divided up, he gave half to Rod and half to me. Rod promptly put the whole lot on my pile and said “I’m not doing that” so I spent the whole weekend marking these papers which were consequently scrapped because I made so many mistakes marking them that they couldn’t hand them back to the kids or use them anyway and I never got asked to mark spelling again. Probably one of the best students I ever had was Brenda Gardiner’s daughter, Cathy. Cathy Gardiner was an athlete. She was a shot putter, discus thrower. She used to win in our school carnivals but she also used to compete in the athletics, the club athletics in Sydney and we raised money for her to go away to the Pan Pacific Games and she won in shot putt and she won three different medals at international level. We had gymnasts, quite a few, including Cathy Gardiner who was a brilliant, brilliant gymnast. Quite a few of the gymnasts, I used to teach and we had gym club after school too. We had gym club after school and we had quite a number of gymnasts who won medals at state level competition. Cathy Gardiner was probably the most outstanding athlete I ever taught.”

When Glenda returned as a teacher, Richmond had a public swimming pool adjacent to the school so it was easier for students to get to.

“The bell would go, the kids would come over to the gym area. You’d march them off, up through the paddocks, right around the oval, and line up at the gate to get their money off them because Rod was running the swimming pool and he had to get the money and then they’d go in and get changed and they would have had a good 10 minutes in the pool, so you couldn’t teach them much, then you’d get them out, get them changed and walk all the way back to the school. By then they would be so hot and so thirsty. I was not allowed to teach what I wanted to teach and it was really, at Richmond, it was too hot. But we walked them up there to the pool – no hats, no sunscreen. It was just ludicrous, just stupidity! By the time you got them in, and got them to swim a length or two then they were out again. You didn’t teach anything.” 

Glenda remembers some of the teachers she worked with.

“Yvonne Stringer was one of them and she has since died but Yvonne and I were neighbours up in Bilpin before I moved back down to Richmond and she was a vibrant, lovely lovely person. She was teaching in the Geography department. I think of some of the teachers I had a really hard time with at sport. I didn’t realise till I was back on the staff trying to organise these teachers who’d been teaching for anything up to 50 years, I’m sure. Trying to get them out there to teach kids things at sport was a joke. Miss Pandu who had been my French teacher. She hated sport – and I don’t blame her. Not everybody was as keen as I was and to put her on a sport and have her turn up half an hour after the bell had gone and we were responsible for those kids. She couldn’t see the point in why she had to be there. A number of other staff like Meredith Hungerford would make their hair appointments on Wednesday afternoon and say to me “I can’t be at sport, dear, I’ve got a hair appointment.” And I would be flabbergasted. It was very hard to deal with because I was a very young teacher who’d been one of their students and I was telling them what to do. Very very difficult, very hard to be diplomatic. 

But on the turnaround to that – that first year out that was when there were millions – I mean we were now the “baby boomers”. There were heaps and heaps of first year out teachers. God it was circus! The social life was exhaustive – but thank heavens I was young cause you couldn’t keep up otherwise. But Friday afternoons was the pub, which you had to go to and there wasn’t a breathalyser then. I don’t know how we weren’t all killed. Anyway, it was a mad mad time where we were all young and the parties that went on and the primary teachers too. We got to know all the primary teachers that were around the place then. We just all knew each other and we partied very very hard and some very funny things happened. You know, it was great, it was just great.”

Glenda describes the gymnasium where she taught most of her classes.

“Either the boys or the girls have it. I mean, you couldn’t share except when you had dance lessons. Those gym lessons when I was first teaching too. We had changed in format a tiny bit. You’d have groups doing group things. The silly old ropes. I still used to try and get the kids to go up those ropes but I knew how hard it was so I never really made them. By then I’d had this car accident so I came at it from a different point of view. If I hadn’t had that car accident, I would have expected everybody to be an athlete. All of a sudden there I was very very badly injured and there were a lot of things I couldn’t do and I empathised so much with some of the kids who just couldn’t do things and found other ways or other activities for them to do. But the gym was still the same, the old wooden floors, really really hard. The sound system was a – I think I bought a little cassette player and took it in there and used that. There was no decent sound system. It was very poorly equipped really. But we had some very hard gym mats. We just got in there and did it and had fun.”

Glenda was entered in the Miss Hawkesbury contest.
“Chris Payne approached me, they are solicitors in Windsor. I represented the Young Liberals. I don’t think I’ve ever voted Liberal in my life but I represented the Young Liberals. At the time, my parents were most unenthusiastic about the whole thing. They didn’t want to be bothered with it. So I had to do the whole bit myself, had to buy the gear and had to be dressed for day wear as well as evening wear and went to the ball and was runner-up to Helen Cook. It was fun at the time. We had a ball, had great great fun doing it all and again I was sort of so confident.

PE had developed very very rapidly in the years that I was first teaching. It developed from being the Rod Payne style of teaching where you had a vaulting horse, a mini-tramp, a wooden vaulting box and those really hard mats that you land on – hard gym mats. They were dreadful. He would have one line of boys and a cane and they were cowards if they didn’t go and they got hit with the cane if they didn’t vault. It developed so that when I was first teaching, you had all this foam. If you were teaching gymnastics, you would have had about 10 different stations and groups working there and ask them to explore anything that they could do, perhaps by using their upper arms and have foam all around. And even teaching the beam, you would put big high jump bags up level with the beam so that if you fell off the beam you were only falling on to foam. How different was that. 

  So I was very lucky I came into teaching when there was a lot of innovation going on. And the emphasis was on – if the kids were enjoying it, they’ll do it, but if they’re hating it, you’re not going to get anything out of anyone. I came in with that attitude that the biggest, fattest, ugliest lumpiest kids – if you could get them to do something, that was a bigger achievement that getting the star athlete to perform. And it was a very big turnaround, big change. And see over my teaching career, that continued to develop and later on I was very much involved in the HSC two unit course. I worked for the Board of Studies and I was also a senior marker at HSC before I finished. Well, that was all that evolution going on, that PT Health, PE was really starting to evolve. So I was at the beginning of the evolution and I was working with Rod Payne who was at the end of the old style.

Summing up – first of all, a smile. I enjoyed it so much. I really loved it. I think – to me – there were many many days that I went to work, even in my last school that I was at Winmalee High School. There were days that I would go in there and think “I don’t deserve to be paid.” I was just enjoying myself so much. As the faculties grew and I was head teacher. I used to work with so many good teachers, clever, witty, intelligent, fantastic teachers. And I think the kids too. As I look back – I still see a huge number of the kids I taught and hear from them. It was all so much fun. I played sport with so many of them. I played basketball with them – I was in their teams. So that they’d see me warts ‘n all and I just enjoyed myself so much. I think I was so privileged to have a fantastic career. I loved it.”

(Glenda Carson was interviewed in November 2005)