Note to our dear readers: This story is in development for the February print issue, so if any of Lyndal’s students (present and past), parents or colleagues would like to add their thoughts or memories to the story, they can do so by emailing email@example.com
With the year’s end fast approaching, and with it, Park Ridge State School’s 125th anniversary celebrations, there is one deserving character of the school who needs mentioning.
In May this year, Park Ridge State School teacher Lyndal McNeill completed her ruby jubilee for teaching.
That 40 years equates to just over a third of the school’s entire history, in which she has seen two of the school’s time capsules and its 100th year anniversary.
That is quite the achievement, particularly right now when long-serving teachers are harder and harder to come by, and universities are lowering the costs of teaching degrees just to pull numbers in.
Ms McNeill, 60, says her motivation comes from seeing early years students learn and grow.
“It’s very rewarding, you feel you make a difference in lives, you hope that you make a difference in lives,” she says.
She did not hesitate in becoming a teacher. She knew it was for her thanks to one defining moment as a child while holidaying at her uncle’s place, a one-teacher school at Somerset Dam where he taught and lived. There, she saw a different side to the classroom, outside of what she knew as a student.
“We got to see the classroom from a different perspective and it just took my fancy from then on,” says Ms McNeill.
Ms McNeill first started at Park Ridge State Preschool in 1984, thinking it would only be a short stint.
“When I first went there I was thinking it would be a one-year stint, so my one year has turned into many years,” she says.
She was a preschool teacher up till 2007 when her role evolved into a prep teacher, as the preschool model was phased out, and she then became a grade 1 teacher in 2011, which is where she has been ever since.
Passing through Ms McNeill’s classroom has become quite the tradition in more ways as one, with former students returning as parents and some even returning for work experience.
“I very much enjoy being at Park Ridge, I’ve taught children of children that I’ve taught – it’s just a lovely connection.”
“I’ve had students return as work experience students when they’re in highschool.”
Ms McNeill says her favourite memories as a teacher revolve around the family connections she makes and the special events involving parents and grandparents.
“Having that family connection is very rewarding,” she says.
“So many of my memories revolve around the special events that we had at preschool, things like the grandparents days, the teddy bear picnics, that where parents and grandparents shared times with the children and grandchildren.”