‘Passion makes you stay’

‘Passion makes you stay’

Clifton Hills Primary School teacher Karen Harford with students Jacinta Nelson, Lily Hamilton and Jesse Smith congratulating her on her retirement. Photograph — Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne.

Clifton Hills Primary School teacher Karen Harford is probably one of the only teachers in the state to celebrate their 21st and 63rd birthdays at the same school.

In a few weeks she will pack the chalk away after more than 40 years of enriching the lives of children in various roles within the Education Department.

Ms Harford started at Clifton Hills in 1974 (then known as Connell Avenue) and worked there for four years before she left to have a child.

She got back into teaching shortly after working at a Catholic primary school for six years before returning to Clifton Hills.

For the past 15 years she has taught hundreds of children from years two to six and currently teaches a class of year two and three students.

She said she stayed in teaching because she loved it and loved the school.

“I love the kids and I love the actual teaching,” she said.

“Most teachers who stay have a passion for teaching and that’s why I’ve stayed this long.

“I think Clifton Hills is a school that everyone who comes doesn’t want to leave.”

Ms Harford said the biggest change she had seen in her time in education was the introduction and influence of technology.

“From a chalkboard that I used to use you went to the whiteboard with the textas and suddenly you have a smart board,” she said.

“I remember they said, ‘one day you will write all your reports on computers,’ I said, ‘I will never ever do that, I will always handwrite my reports.’ I couldn’t even imagine handwriting my reports now.”

She said a lot of things had come full circle like the teaching of phonics or nature playgrounds.

“I do laugh sometimes because when I first came here we had a creek and a nature playground was just there in the backyard of the school, now they’re actually building it in,” she said.

“They filled in the creek because it was too dangerous now suddenly they’re bringing it back saying kids need to play and they need to have adventures and take risks.”

Ms Harford said she would still relief teach every so often but mostly she would relax.

“I’m just going to stop for a while and smell the roses literally, I’ll go out into my garden,” she said.