South Coast Christian educators Hazel Morgan and Jenny Halkett have been volunteering their time in classrooms for many decades, but their passion for teaching children remains stronger than ever.
After dedicating years of sharing their knowledge of Christian scripture in Batemans Bay and beyond, the pair will be honoured at the Batemans Bay Employers of Christian Education Teachers’ (BBECET) annual dinner later this month.
For both women, the joy of teaching young students has been a mainstay of their lives, with the rewards and connections forged extending beyond the walls of the classroom.
I looked at them and said, ‘I’ve got to do something. They’ve got no faith, no hope.’Hazel Morgan
“I had one little girl at Woolworths in the school holidays one time and she was singing out to me, ‘Happy Christmas Mrs Morgan’. Then, she’d get a little bit further away and sing out to me again, so you really do form that connection,” Mrs Morgan said.
The 85-year-old is a familiar face at Batemans Bay Public School and is nearing her 20th year of teaching locally.
After years of teaching scripture in the Riverina and then taking a break from the role, she found herself in Batemans Bay being called back to school around the year 2000.
“One day when (my husband and I) first came here, there was a young boy that had been killed and the funeral was at the Uniting Church,” she said.
“We were driving along in the car and all these young people were crossing the road and they were so devastated.
“I looked at them and said, ‘I’ve got to do something. They’ve got no faith, no hope’.”
Sharing this love of teaching is Mrs Halkett, whose Christian education journey began as a teenager at Sunday School.
Now in her eighties, Mrs Halkett has more recently stepped into an assistant scripture teaching role at Sunshine Bay Public School and finds it as fulfilling as ever.
(Scripture teaching) has been in my heart, on and off, since I was 18.Jenny Halkett
“(Scripture teaching) has been in my heart, on and off, since I was 18,” Mrs Halkett said.
“It’s delightful. I walk around and help the kids with their books. We always go through their books afterwards and mark them, give them little comments or stickers,” Mrs Halkett said.
“The effort is certainly worth the reward.”
Both teachers, along with BBECET secretary Glen Hancock, say the role enables students to ask questions about religion in a safe environment.
“The year sixes often don’t realise they’re asking very deep questions and they know whoever is teaching them will give them an honest answer,” Ms Hancock said.
“It’s really important that those kids are starting to ask very deep questions, and we’ve got the opportunity to respond to that, which is fabulous.”