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Inside Teaching : June 2010
www.atra.edu.au | firstname.lastname@example.org MY BEST TEACHER 19 'Although for me Year 7 was a long time ago, I still have very fond memories of Mr Carey, who passed away a few years ago. He was an old-fashioned, traditional style teacher who drummed into his students the very important fundamental skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. Hewasabigmanwithadeep and sometimes booming voice. When he needed to be, he was strict, but he was also fair and had a sense of humour. Years after leaving school I ran into Mr Carey a few times and he was always genuinely interested in how my career was developing. 'Ms Rolley taught me a few subjects at high school including English and German. She had a great personality and her passion for teaching was obvious. She was cool and classy. She gave a lot of herself in the classes she taught and I think that enthusiasm made learning interesting and worthwhile. 'Mrs Seehaver was my high school art teacher. I remember her groovy clothes and creative ideas, but I also remember her gentle and calm personality, and the way she was always encouraging and gave great feedback. Behind the scenes, I think she would've spent lots of time preparing, coming up with fun things for us to do. For me, heading off to art class was always a highlight of the school week, largely due to Mrs Seehaver.' Thomson now has two daughters in Years 2 and 5, and so far, she says, they've had wonderful teachers. 'Each of their teachers has had a different style and personality, but the outcomes have all been positive. I like teachers who are fair and approachable, who want to be there every day, to make a difference. I think it's important for all children to be able to adapt to different people. It helps set them up for the future.' Making a difference and helping kids for the future also lies behind Thomson's keen support for charities like SIDS and Kids, the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Epilepsy Queensland. 'Basically,' she says, 'I give back as much as I can. I've made a great career from doing what I love. I've been on national television now for 23 years. Over that time I've been asked to help with many different charities, and I especially want to help kids who are having a tough time. I visit the Royal Children's Hospital, Brisbane, a few times each year. It's a fantastic feeling to brighten a sick child's day.' Before her days as Totally Wild's Ranger Stacey, Thomson was a co-host -- if that's the word -- with the redoubtable Agro on Agro's Cartoon Connection. Did she ever learn anything from the 'talking bathmat'? 'I learned to laugh a lot from Agro, and not to take life too seriously! In the world of television, he taught me to think on my feet and fly by the seat of my pants. He reinforced the importance of just being yourself. That's what I've always done and it works.' If Thomson can learn from a bathmat -- okay, okay, via puppeteer Jamie Dunn -- what has she learned from the greatest teacher of all: life itself? Plenty, Thomson says. 'Travel and adventure are the best teachers. Sometimes it's good to get out of your comfort zone and it's amazing what you learn about yourself. When I was younger I went to Europe with my family. What a great experience! That gave me the travel bug. From there I wanted more and I've travelled many times since. WhenIwasinmyearly20sI went backpacking with a friend. While in Sweden she cut her foot badly and had to have surgery. We decided to continue with our adventure but it was tough. I remember pushing her in a wheelchair around Paris. I realised I was a stronger person than I thought. 'My family has also taught me a huge amount. My parents and grandparents laid the building blocks and shaped the kind of person I am. I hope that I'm likewise shaping my daughters, and learning from them. Hopefully, I've picked up positive bits and pieces from all the good people who've touched my life, like my husband Rob. That's the education you get without realising it.' ■ Totally Wild screens on weekday mornings on Channel 10. omson My best teacher