Naracoorte High farewells Agnews

FAREWELL: Diana and John Agnew retire from Naracoorte High School. Photo: Laura Sneath
FAREWELL: Diana and John Agnew retire from Naracoorte High School. Photo: Laura Sneath

Sixteen years after making a short-term move to Naracoorte, teachers John and Diana Agnew are retiring from the high school.

Now coming to the end of their time at the school, the academic duo shared some of their wisdom and highlights over the past 16 years.

"We've had some lovely moments in the past few weeks where we've had a number of students who expressed their appreciation (for us) as teachers. It's been really lovely," John said.

The pair moved to Naracoorte for a change in scenery and so their sons could attend a larger school with more opportunities.

John started as an agricultural teacher but they both recently taught maths and science, with Di focusing on maths for the past 10 years.

"We have effectively been leaders in those areas in the school," John said.

"There's lots of (highlights), it's really hard to tie up to one or two things.

"One of the advantages of being a long-term teacher is you see the students improve and so there are some students ... who have been sort of ratbags in Year 8 and really develop their potential and do well."

Diana said the moment she sees those students finding their feet, it all becomes worth it.

"When you see those kids taking on the challenge of whatever pathway they've got their heart set on ... it's particularly wonderful to catch up with them five years down the track and see how well they're going."

Earlier this year, Diana was honoured as South Australia's best in teacher excellence at the 2019 Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute Choose Maths Awards.

Ms Agnew was selected based on her demonstrated capacity to engage and inspire students using innovative practice and for providing ongoing mentoring support.

Not only did John and Diana mentor Naracoorte High students, they also spent months at a time hosting overseas exchange students.

Germany, Finland, Taiwan, France and Canada are just some of the countries which students visited from to experience the Australian way of living and to scrub up on their English.

"One of the reasons we've done it is we want to give (Naracoorte) students exposure to other cultures," John said.

"It was really interesting at times. A couple of instances when they go back ... they send through a (university) thesis to proofread."

Methods of teaching are changing all the time, and Diana said teachers are adapting to new ways of engaging young students every year.

"There's so much that changes all the time. So I'm probably in my fifth curriculum in our teaching career. Lots has to change and there's been a lot of innovation."

She said a lot of younger teachers start their careers at Naracoorte High School and she gets great satisfaction in seeing them develop as educators.

As a coordinator, John enjoyed getting the students to realise that although Naracoorte is a terrific place, there is a whole life and many possibilities for them outside of town.

Although some would agree maths and science aren't the most popular subjects, John and Diana have tried to increase student engagement in those subject over the years.

"We've taken the kids to maths quiz nights. Nobody was going to (them) when I arrived, and they're just great fun, and I've done that every year that I've been here," Diana said.

"It's always a challenge. I think the push more widely with STEM has helped kids understand that even if they don't like it, it's probably going to be part of their future. So that's probably helped a bit."

Their plans moving forward are to kick their feet up, relax and spend some time with family.

"This next year will be a bit of a chance to relax and refresh because we've gotten fairly exhausted," Diana said.

"Having a bit more time to just be grandparents. We also hope to do some volunteering at New Guinea.

"(The school) has been a great place ... we've had a fantastic team we've worked with, and that's been incredibly rewarding."