Meet Chris Curran
She was going to be a nurse and follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunties but a fainting spell at the nursing interview revealed a different pathway, and she turned to her love of maths and physical education. Since that decision, Chris Curran, has become a familiar, long standing, friendly face at Calrossy for many years.
After starting as a PE, maths and computer teacher in 1981, Chris Curran has been many things at Calrossy in and out of the classroom.
She was Balleburra House patron for more than 10 years and also supported wellbeing in Girls Boarding. In between she also spent a year in England exchange teaching.
“My husband and I were the inaugural boarding parents for Year 11 girls at Simpson House, along with Les and Lorraine Brady for five years. It was a steep learning curve, as we hadn't had any children of our own. I enjoy strategic games and numbers,” she says.
For the past 15 years she been the coordinator of the Duke of Edinburgh program. In her role with the Duke of Edinburgh at Calrossy, Chris Curran has supported countless young men and women through the process of completing the award through diverse cultural and adventure activities. It’s all about connecting young people and improving self-esteem and building confidence. The students gain essential skills and attributes for work and life such as resilience, problem-solving, teamwork and communication. The program is a great example of the diverse co-curricular offerings at Calrossy, made possible through the dedication and generosity of staff.
“Over the years students have climbed Mt Kaputar, Mt Yasur & Mt Kosciusko (to name a few). Explored Yuragir NP & the Snowy Mountains. It is an internationally recognised program which helps to develop many new skills, learn to serve the community, make a commitment and persevere “ says Mrs Curran.
Not surprisingly, Mrs Curran was an active student herself, studying at Macquarie University she gained her Bachelor of Arts Majoring in Mathematics & Education. She attained Level 1 certificates in softball, basketball and hockey through the Australian Coaching Council and an ACHPER aerobics certification. Her love of sport has also shone through her time at Calrossy. She coached eight softball teams each season with her dad, the Reverend Bruce Molesworth, during the 1980’s and 90’s. She also coached basketball and hockey, while playing first grade hockey and softball.
“Sport at Calrossy was very different in my early teaching career. Most students played Softball, Basketball, Hockey and Water Polo. Wendy Wheeldon & Helen Taylor would organise the numerous Calrossy hockey teams. We would go to the hockey fields to train the students each week and then play in the School girls comp on a night or Saturday morning.
Wendy Wheeldon would organise the schools water polo. I organised the School’s Basketball and I thoroughly enjoyed coaching Basketball, I think because the girls loved the game and were keen to develop their skills. We trained on the BSC basketball court. Dad and I organised eight softball teams which was a mammoth task. We only had six kits and trying to get the kits packed and to the grounds etc was difficult but you just did it because you loved the game. Many students now join and play in the community teams."
It’s fitting that after all these hours of supporting sport and students at Calrossy, her dad now has the oval at Brisbane Street named after him.
"The oval used to be uneven and full of rocks and cat head burr. Dad and I spent many hours picking up rocks that came through the ground and digging out cat head burr. Dad paid for a water diviner to find water and a bore pump was erected where it is today. Dad purchased the softball net and purchased a pitching machine which spat out softballs at high speed. This improved the teams batting immensely and we won quite a few competitions."
"Our family was extremely proud when Peter Smart awarded a Citation for the school BSC oval. Many of my brothers and sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews have been able to have their photo taken in front of the sign."
It was her dad that first connected her to Calrossy all those years ago.
“Dad phoned me about a position at Calrossy during my end of uni. I had an interview with Peter (Smart) and the rest is History. God works in mysterious ways”.
Not unexpectedly, Mrs Curran says teaching is very different from when she first started and she has embraced the move to a Growth Mindset in the classroom. A growth mindset means acceptance (and even celebration of) struggles, with an emphasis on the effort and hard work that leads to success. It’s based on a believe that talents, skills and abilities are not fixed but can be developed and nurtured over time.
“Basically I had to teach myself and learn along the way. I learnt very early on that you have to be flexible. No matter how hard you plan and try to cater for changes, you have to be able to think on your feet and adapt. We were told to cater for each individual in the classroom, but it was never explained how to do that. Now with Quality Teaching and Learning and with NESA accreditation catering for individual differences is directed.”
“In the classroom I like to have a quiz on prior learning, I like to use a variety of technologies. I like to encourage students to be brave and ask questions when they are not sure. I like to encourage students to have a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset.”
Among the many challenges of teaching teenagers, Chris Curran says there are more rewards.
“I have made lifelong friends from teaching. I have been able to travel to many places through excursions and Exchange teaching. I have been able to upskill. Teaching students to have a love of learning and have a go.”
Her best teaching advice also serves as a great life lesson.
“Don't take things personally, someone might be just having a bad day. Simple words such as R U OK can get a conversation started. I can remember my own Maths teacher encouraging me to THINK. He would say " Are you trying to tell me……….."
After more than four decades in the classroom, the dedicated Calrossy teacher still loves life and learning at the school.
“There is always something to LEARN… Calrossy is a dynamic place to work."
"At Calrossy I love seeing a number of our alumni returning to take up positions on staff, (my son included). I think it is wonderful and says something about alumni wanting to return and be given the opportunity to extend their learning. Having taught girls for the first 30 years of my career. It has been lovely to teach both boys & girls. I think Calrossy truly does work to be inclusive. Well done. :)”, says Mrs Curran.