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Retirement Interview with Mrs Andersen

Today is Mrs Andersen's last day at Birralee! Mrs Andersen joined Birralee in 2007 and has predominantly worked as an English Teacher in the upper end of our school. She also taught Art and Food and Health. We are very grateful for Mrs Andersen's contributions to Birralee over the years. We will be celebrating Mrs Andersen's career with staff tomorrow, but today we are looking back with this interview conducted by two of our Year 10 students, Jalissa and Miriam.

1.Why did you choose to become a teacher?

I admit that I “fell” into teaching accidentally due to life circumstances. I never thought I wanted to be a teacher, but that’s why we refer to such things as “happy accidents”.

2. If you had the chance to teach any other subject, which one would you choose and why?

Art, Art, and more Art. I love Art and the human drive to be creative. There is so much to explore that you can never get bored, and it’s amazing to see how much talent there is among our students.

There are times when I wish I had been a Math teacher because I envy those who have such a good grasp of mathematics that they can teach it.

3. What is your most memorable moment as a teacher at Birralee?

There are so many! We can begin with all the musical performances through the years. So many memorable moments, and a few frustrating ones!

I’ve had many memorable moments preparing graduation (presentations, performances, or speeches) for the graduating class when I was their class teacher. We form attachments to our students and feel responsible for their continued success and well-being. Giving them a proper “send-off” was important both for them and for me.

On a more humorous note, it was definitely memorable when I was in Spain with students a few years ago, and some savvy seagulls, recently gorging on rotten fish for lunch, decided to dive-bomb two of our students while waiting outside the Picasso Museum in Malaga. Not a pretty site, or smell, but we can laugh about it now!

4. What will you miss the most about Birralee?

Definitely all the interesting conversations I’ve had with students and colleagues. There will be nothing to replace that in my retirement life.

5. Will you return to visit Birralee in the future?

Of course, I will come back to see everyone and hope that some of you are still here!

6. What is your favourite poem?

Unfair question, but I’ll give it a try. How can we have just one?

“Song of Myself” by American poet Walt Whitman. He uses lots of words (52 verses worth!) to convey a message about equality, the value of every individual, and our place in humanity. Challenging to read, but well worth it.

At the other end of the spectrum we have Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody! Who Are You?”. This poem has two very short verses, about 40 words total, and is a “fanfare” for those of us who are introverts and not afraid to embrace it.

7. Who is your favourite author?

Another unfair question! There are many favourites and for many different reasons.

Jane Austen, because I never get tired of re-reading her novels. She is like an old friend engaged in a conversation with me, and we are having a good time together, preferably over a cup of tea.

Also, Thomas Hardy. I find his somewhat brooding, dark, but sympathetically represented characters in the midst of tragedy to be deeply compelling.

8. Which book should every student read?

Take your pick: Gombrich’s “The Story of Art”, Janson’s “History of Art”, or Gardner’s “Art through the Ages”, among many others.

Everyone should pick up a great book about Art at some point in their lifetime and marvel at the variety of expressions of human creativity through the ages and in different cultures. We are created to be creative, and look at what we have achieved!

Mrs Andersen andn Ms Eggen during Halloween 2020

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