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11th May 2022

Teacher marks 50 year milestone

A career spanning more than five decades has seen Shalom College teacher, Jeanette Wedemeyer, weather the twists and turns of life with faith and dedication in a vocation she loves.

“The desire to be a teacher was something I was born with. I was teaching the neighbourhood kids and my dolls on my Grandmother’s veranda with my own blackboard, chalk and butcher paper for them to write on, long before I even started school myself,” Mrs Wedemeyer recalled.

Mrs Wedemeyer’s love affair with Catholic Education began on Valentine’s Day, 14 February 1972, at St Patrick’s Convent Girls’ High in Bundaberg, last month chalking up 50 years of service to our Catholic colleges in Bundaberg.

“St Pat’s, later Loyola College, was an idyllic place to work. I was exactly where I was meant to be.

“Back then, there were more teaching nuns than lay teachers. Immediately, I felt at home as the Sisters of Mercy really took me under their protective wings.

“My teaching subjects were English, Maths and French. I shared the morning assembly with a little Irish nun with a very marked accent. Her prayers began with ‘Dear God, We are linked with you in suffering,’-  I have never forgotten those words. Whenever the going gets tough, her words spring into my mind. She significantly impacted the formation of my classroom presence,” Mrs Wedemeyer said.

Moving to Shalom College in 1985, Mrs Wedemeyer has taught a diverse range of subjects over the past 37 years including English, Maths, History, Drama, SOSE, Religion, Religion and Ethics.

“The absolute highlight of my teaching at Shalom was the years I devoted to teaching as the Drama Coordinator. I fostered Christian Dance, Drama and Clowning with student success at local, Maryborough and Gladstone Eisteddfods and regular participation in Catholic Parish Masses and Year 12 Graduation Ceremonies. This creative ministry empowered me to be wholistically fulfilled as a Christian educator,” Mrs Wedemeyer said.

With a clear commitment to being a lifelong learner herself, Mrs Wedemeyer undertook further tertiary qualifications and was very involved with various professional associations over the years including English Teachers Association of Queensland (ETAQ), Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE) and Australian Literacy Educators' Association (ALEA).

“The biggest recent learning curve is mastering technology and online learning in the classroom. Dreading the discomfort of feeling incompetent, I am in the upskilling phase,” Mrs Wedemeyer said.

“Ultimately, no matter what the timetabled subject might be, it really doesn’t matter because I teach kids! I strive to help them to be the best they can be, while valuing each one by treating each as a young adult, empowering them to be.

“I feel totally at peace with my inner purpose and it is why I have taught for 50 years in Catholic Education…and three years before that,” Mrs Wedemeyer said.

Mrs Wedemeyer has no immediate plans to retire saying, “My God will direct me along that path just as he led me through my breast cancer experience and through many difficulties and significant challenges throughout the last 50 years.”

“I trust that I have somehow made a difference in the lives of the children that I have taught,” Mrs Wedemeyer said.

Photo: Celebrating 50 years of teaching in Catholic Education is Mrs Jeanette Wedemeyer (centre) with some of her past students who are now her fellow staff members at Shalom College, Bundaberg.

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