Mrs Cathy Hull has decided to retire after 44 years teaching in schools across the Barossa and Gawler region.
She just finished her eleventh year as Principal at Keyneton Primary School and believes it’s the right time for her to move on.
“I made the decision two years ago. Last year was technically the end of my tenure at Keyneton, but because I was going to retire I could stay one more year,” said Mrs Hull.
“Not that this was part of my decision, but I came to the sobering realisation a few weeks ago that some of those Year 1 students I taught in my very first year at Nuriootpa will be turning 50 next year!”
Mrs Hull began her career in education at Nuriootpa Primary School in 1977, the year the new school officially opened.
She taught there for four years until she left to have her children, Ben and Emily.
In 1984 she returned to relief and contract work across a majority of the Barossa schools, but predominantly at Nuriootpa, Angaston and Kapunda.
From 2000 to 2006 she taught at Hewett Primary, where her journey into leadership began.
Mrs Hull admits she hadn’t really ever considered being a Principal before that, but was mentored by Education Director, Ms Kathryn Bruggemann; Principal Consultant, Ms Janice Roberts and Mr Con Karvouniaris.
She held co-ordinator positions at Hewett and was acting assistant Principal on three occasions. It was during that time she gained the confidence to apply for principal positions.
From 2007 to 2009 Mrs Hull was Principal at Moculta Primary School.
Whilst a huge change from Hewett which had over 400 students, she felt a connection to the community being a farm girl and going to primary school in Daveyston.
In 2010 Mrs Hull won the role of Principal at Keyneton Primary School, which she can only describe as ‘rewarding and special’.
“I love the feeling that we are a big ‘family’ and everyone looks after each other,” she said.
“We get to know each student, their abilities and learning needs really well. Because we are small we can provide the individual learning programmes and support required.”
With over 44 years in education it’s no surprise that Mrs Hull has taught a lot of community members, and in some cases even children of previous students.
“One of the nice things is that a number of my own children’s friends were taught by me and they would comment to Ben and Emily that they thought their mum was a fun teacher,” said Mrs Hull.
“That’s because I would read Paul Jennings’ stories while they were working on their art projects!”
This was just one of the many memorable moments Mrs Hull has from over the years.
Others include Keyneton Primary School’s end of year concert and school musicals; her involvement in the design of the community art project mural at the school, and how the school was a location for wider community gathering after the Eden Valley fires.
“Honestly, I’ve loved every school and each year level I’ve taught over the years. Every school, class and student is unique and that’s contributed to a very rewarding career,” said Mrs Hull.
“I will miss the staff, families and Keyneton community as a whole. But I really am going to miss the kids and watching them grow and seeing their a-ha moments when something they’ve been struggling with clicks.
“Those are the things that bring real joy to a teacher.”
Post-retirement, Mrs Hull plans to pursue her love of art and spend many happy hours in her own studio, painting mainly landscapes in soft pastel, watercolour and acrylic.
She hopes to travel to workshops around Australia and work with renowned American and Australian pastel artists.
“I had planned an art holiday in Greece this year. That’s still on the ‘to do’ list for when the world is safe again, but Zoom has provided a great way to learn too… only different time zones make that tricky,” said Mrs Hull.
Mrs Hull will also spend more time with her parents, David and Jill Wehr at the river.
And if she misses the children too much, she’ll do some relief teaching work.