Interview by Rachel White
Jacqueline Foley, who prefers to be called Jackie, has been teaching mathematics at Nagle College for countless years. Jackie has seen many changes in that time and has witnessed many people walk through the front gate of the school. I sat down with Jackie to discuss her thoughts, as an honoured member of the Nagle College community.
Your parents migrated from Ireland and met in the mid sixties, to then have three children. During this time your parents moved around between America and Australia. What was that like?
In Australia I grew up in grew up in Belmore, which is a suburb in inner west Sydney and then my family moved to America where my sister was born and we lived in Connecticut, outside of New York for about 4-5 years. I did a bit of schooling there and then my father had a job change and came back to Australia and we settled in Carlingford. America was quite different to Australia. When I lived there it was just after the blacks and whites, as they called them, started to integrate...about 10-20 years after and things were still quite tense. It was very much us and them. America was very good with immigrants from other countries. They had large Italian, Polish and Irish communities. For the schooling I do remember we were allowed to wear whatever we wanted, so when I moved back to Australia I found it weird to have to wear the same thing as everyone else, as I was only young.
Have you noticed alot of changes where you have lived in Australia over the years?
Yes everything nowadays is a lot busier. On the plus side there are more shops and more things to do. On the downside a lot of the open space is gone. The entertainment has changed...when I was younger there were a lot of rollerskating rinks and a lot of outdoor activities that were available but now they have disappeared. Transportation has improved, buses are so much better...when I was growing up I walked to most places and it was a long walk. There were a few local buses but not as much as recent times. The costs of things has gone up an awful lot...to go out and have a good time these days, such as cinema tickets can cost families $100 with tickets, a drink each and something small to eat. I recognise most families don't do this anymore, when I used to do it all the time.
After attending St Gerard Majella Primary School in Carlingford, you then moved to Our Lady Of Mercy College Epping and Our Lady Of Mercy College Parramatta for your high school years. What was high school like for you back then?
I loved high school. I went to OLMC Epping, which is now the Elizabeth Arden School for years 7-10, then in my senior years I went to OLMC Parramatta. I had a great time at OLMC Epping. In classes everyone got along and mingled with each other. At lunch I used to join in with sporting activities and make up my own games to play and it was just great. Going to OLMC Parramatta for my final years of school was a big change of pace as only 30 of the kids from my previous school came, so I lost contact with a few friends. I enjoyed Parramatta although it was very serious and not as much fun as Epping. Sport was cut out and you were given extra library time to study, which was quite annoying because I really enjoyed sport. The school was quite strict and you were told you were representing the school so you had to make sure you were wearing the uniform properly or you got into huge trouble, which I know from experience.
How would you describe yourself as a student?
I loved school which is probably why I'm still in school now. I was a good student because learning came quite easy to me. I was relatively sporty but a bit naughty. I was quite chatty and I played quite a lot of practical jokes, which I got away with as no one suspected me.
How were the teachers back then?
The teachers were very good. They helped you when you wanted to do extra and if you wanted to slack off they were a bit tougher on you, as they didn't allow anyone to slack off ever and quite often people were kept in at lunch time for incomplete work. The majority of my classes the teachers gave lectures which was quite boring but that was the teaching method back then. The science, math and creative arts teachers back then were quite unusual...the geography and English teachers were pretty much normal.
What did you do when you finished school? Did you further your studies or travel?
In my era there was no such thing as a gap year or travelling so I went straight into uni to try and become a teacher.
You have been teaching at Nagle College for many years. In these years that you have taught here, have you noticed many changes?
Huge amount of changes in the years I have taught here. I have seen quite a number of principals work here. The students' attitudes are different...I think the students now are a lot friendlier than they were a long time ago with talking to adults. The only really negative change is that I don't think students try as hard as they once did to really understand the subjects. I think they find something difficult and then give up too easily. That's my impression.
Would you make changes to improve the school?
I'm not sure how it would happen but I would like to make people more enthusiastic about their subjects and get a real passion for it and really strive to achieve and want to get fabulous marks all the time. That was the type of student I was, a bit nerdy but I enjoyed getting really good results, but I put the effort in. I would also like to bring back more physical activity...there used to be more games played on the oval but now that's gone. I would also like to ban the sight of seeing so many of you sitting together at lunch glued to your phone and not talking to each other. I think that's a really sad change that has occurred.
would you, If given the opportunity, work at a different school?
Yes I would. I have been working here for the length of time I have been working here because I have really enjoyed it here. I have enjoyed the students, I have made a lot of friends and the staff members are great. I don't feel a need that I have to go somewhere else, but if something opened up and it was something I could learn from or something exciting or fun, yeah I would do it.
Do you have any goals or plans for the future?
I have a personal goal and that is to keep on travelling and to see as many countries as I can. I would also love to have my own job where I could read books all day long and give opinions, as I love reading. Goals for me personally are to live a life where people say I have made a difference, to be a teacher that people think well of, happiness, world peace blah blah blah.