Betty bids farewell after 44 years
44 YEARS ago Betty Reid wrote a letter applying for a job as teacher aide at Burnett Heads State School and sent it off with her son, who was a student at the time.
Now after just over four decades in the job, Betty yesterday walked out of the school gate as a Teacher Aide for the last time, stepping into retirement.
Betty has been part of the Burnett Heads State School community since she was a young girl, beginning as a student in 1944.
Her children then attended the school, when her son suggested teacher aideing when he was eight years old.
“I wasn’t a young person, I was a mature aged mother then, we only had two boys and the youngest one was eight and he came home this night and said ‘why don’t you become a teacher’s aide mum?’,” she said.
“I did apply, with a nicely written letter, I packed his lunch the next morning and the letter was still in his school bag with his water bottle spilt all over it.
“So I just took it out of the stained envelope and put it in a new one and here I am now retiring from it.”
She said a lot of things had changed throughout the years, including handwriting.
“At the start teacher aide’s were very much restricted as to what they could do because the teacher was there and we were under their guidance … we weren’t even allowed to sound out the letters for the children,” she said.
“Now teacher aide’s are so involved, there’s lots of things the teacher aide’s can do now.
“I had to go back to school at one time for six or eight weeks and learn the new handwriting, then came in the computers.”
Betty said her favourite part of being a teacher aide was working with the teachers and the students.
“The children are wonderful because they’re all little individuals,” she said.
“It used to come Christmas time and they loved to give you a Christmas card and I chose myself every year to write to them and thank them.
“Sometimes I’d have up to 50 letters and my husband would say ‘can’t you just type up one and send the same?’ and I said no, they are all different so they all got a special little message from me.”
After working with Betty for the last 14 years, early childhood teacher Trevor Standfast said Betty had a “wealth of knowledge”.
“Betty is just so knowledgeable with anything to do with the school, especially the visual arts,” he said.
“We’d have such a great time together doing wonderful things with the children for Easter and Christmas.
“Just the day-to-day running of the school, it was just such a benefit for new teachers to come here and know how things run.
“She’s like a mum to me and grandma to all the children at school.”
Now retired, Betty shared her plans for the future which included spending some time in her garden.
“I’m just going to do exactly what I’ve done before and take longer to do it and start later,”
While she might be retired now, she won’t be a stranger to the school community.
“There’s lots of memories,” she said.
“Suzanne (one of the teachers) has invited me back, so that will be nice to come back some days and do things with her.”