If there is one thing that Jenny Wedemeyer has come to know in her 50 years of teaching, it's that she has never once stopped learning.
The Bundaberg woman recently celebrated five decades as a Catholic Education teacher and in that time, has always held a strong passion for making a difference to the lives of her students.
It’s been an interesting journey for Mrs Wedemeyer and while she still isn’t sure when she will retire, she does know that she will be guided in the same direction as she has been throughout her whole career – the right one.
Looking back she said she believed that she strived to do her best, instilling a range of values into each student that she had the pleasure of teaching.
“My lifelong commitment to my vocation of teaching has formed me as a lifelong learner, striving to be the best possible teacher of whatever subject that appears on my timetable,” Mrs Wdemeyer said.
“I strive to help the students to be the best they can be, while valuing each one by treating each as a young adult, empowering them to be.”
Mrs Wedemeyer, who is currently working at Shalom College, said over the years her classroom teaching experience had featured a diverse range of subjects including maths, English, history, religion and drama.
She said her highlight of her time at Shalom had been when she was drama coordinator.
“I fostered Christian dance, drama and clowning with student success at local, Maryborough and Gladstone eisteddfods while groups of my students committed to participation in Catholic Parish Masses and Year 12 graduation ceremonies when church services were still an integral part,” Mrs Wedemeyer said.
“This creative ministry empowered me to be holistically fulfilled as a Christian educator.”
Mrs Wedemeyer started her teaching career back in her hometown of Gayndah after attending Queensland University and Kelvin Grove Teacher’s College.
After three years of teaching, she moved to Bundaberg where she was transferred to Bundaberg State High School before joining St Patrick’s Covent Girls’ High School at the beginning of 1972.
“St Patrick’s was an idyllic place to work in with its 180-odd female students and more teaching nuns than lay teachers,” she said.
“Immediately, I felt at home as the sisters really took me under their protective wings where the entire school consisted of six classes: two for each of Years 8, 9 and 10.
“More importantly, for me as a devout Anglican, this new Christian environment provided me with a very firm foundation on which to grow and flourish because my work was deeply embedded in my deep inner spirituality.
“Thus, teaching became more than a profession to me.”
After a few years, St Patrick’s turned into Loyola College and in 1985, Jenny moved to Shalom College.
“Personally, this was a huge challenge because Shalom College had been established in 1984 as a Christian Brothers’ College with classes of boys from Years 8 to 12 and a smattering of girls in Years 11 and 12,” she said.
“So, the Loyola staff and students moved into an expanding, established school and it was like starting again on the bottom rung of the ladder.”
Mrs Wedemeyer said she had never stopped learning over the past 50 years, especially in more recent times when she had to adjust to online learning.
“Recently, the biggest challenge has been the coming of technology and online learning in the classroom,” she said.
“Dreading the discomfort of feeling incompetent, I am in the upskilling phase because I hate feeling inadequate.”
Having faced a number of challenges during her career, Mrs Wedemeyer said that these challenges have only helped to renew her passion for teaching.
“There have been two challenging, reflective phases in my years at Shalom where health issues tested my determination and resilience, although both experiences clearly renewed my passion for teaching and the deep desire to be present to my students,” she said.
“I trust that I have somehow made a difference in the lives of the children that I have taught.”
Shalom College Principal Dan McMahon congratulated Mrs Wedemeyer on her 50 year milestone.
“This is a remarkable achievement and so many Bundaberg young people have benefitted from her knowledge, commitment, and talent,” he said.
“Well done to an outstanding educator who is still going strong.”
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