Goodbye and thank you Mrs Downes

Goodbye and thank you Mrs Downes

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] Eagles-mad teacher Marion Downes is calling time on her teaching career after 41-and-a-half years at South Thornlie Primary School. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

Ferndale resident Marion Downes has two great loves in her life, a love of the West Coast Eagles and a love of teaching at South Thornlie Primary School.

One of those chapters is coming to an end, and while this season has seen many fans threatening to pull the plug on their membership, Downes is one to stick with her team through thick and thin.

After 41-and-a-half years at South Thornlie Primary School, Downes is calling time on her teaching career.

As she starts to reflect on her career, she is looking forward to spending time with her three children and two grandchildren.

“I’ve had all my children while I was there, I worked part-time for many years, and just the staff have been wonderful there, the families coming through and the wonderful South Thornlie community,” she said.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, getting the children to learn and see how they progress.

“I went to Claremont Teacher’s College and I specialised in junior primary methods so I’ve always taught in the junior years, year ones, year threes, and I’ve really enjoyed teaching that year level because there’s a really creative aspect to it.”

Downes is notorious for her passionate support of the Eagles, and for incorporating the team into school assemblies.

“I think I’ve got a reputation for doing wonderful assemblies and I always integrate something about the Eagles in the assemblies, if we do book week I’ll do books about the Eagles, when the Tokyo Olympics were on, I got the kids to act out a bit about AFL replacing soccer in the Olympics.

“It started off as a bit of a joke but I kept it going, and I enjoy the banter.

“You couldn’t beat Peter Matera in his prime and I really admire Matt Priddis, he’s underrated and a good role-model at a time where we needed one.”

Over her career she has seen teaching change, and while she appreciates the need for technology in the classroom, she believes that sometimes it’s a bit much.

“When I started teaching the students came fresh from home to year one, there wasn’t pre-primary at that point.

“I’ve been through all the technology changes, from floppy disks to IBM computers, tapes and CDs and now kids do a lot of online learning but I still like to encourage reading real books and gaining real experiences.

“It depends on the background of the students I don’t think the technology has had any impact on student outcomes.

“I appreciate the technology but I think it can be too much in the primary school junior years, they still need the basic reading, writing and basic maths skills.”

With her last day at the end of term 2 looming, she plans to start travelling and finally heading interstate to see her two-year-old granddaughter.

“I think in the first six months I’ll take some time to just decompress.”