You have an abiding relationship with Girls Grammar, which began when you arrived as a student in 1955. What is at the heart of this enduring connection?
I enjoyed my four years at Girls Grammar, during which I gained many new, exciting experiences and lifelong friendships. It was where my love for languages began, and my interest in Chemistry was nurtured. The skills I gained at Girls Grammar have served me well as an educator.
What are some of your favourite memories from Girls Grammar?
I was a Day Girl at first but boarded during my senior years when my father was transferred to Dalby.
I remember clearly how I travelled to school each day before becoming a boarder. We lived in Wynnum, so I left home before 7 am, travelled by bus to North Quay, walked down Queen Street to the trolley bus in Edward Street, bound for Gregory Terrace.
Although I knew no one when I arrived on that first day in January 1955, I soon enjoyed being with my classmates of IIIB. I think my teachers liked what I did and were always encouraging. My favourite subjects were French, Latin and Chemistry, all of which I studied at university and subsequently taught.
I can remember being curious about the background of my French teacher Madame Stenders, a refugee from Europe whom I admired for her courage and commitment.
She provided opportunities to use our language outside the classroom, including the annual Concours de Poesie and a concert, La Soirée des Ecoles. One performance was an extract from Gounod’s opera, Mireille, performed in French and in costume. I had a keen interest in music, especially piano.
When I was studying music for Senior, I was given the privilege of practising on Miss Crooks’ grand piano at 6.30 in the morning. One of my musical highlights was conducting my form (VB and VIB) in the Interform Choral Competition for the R.T. Jefferies and Etheldreda Jefferies Bursary which we (Form VIB) won in 1958.
What motivated you to become a teacher?
Teaching was not my first choice, but I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity to become a secondary teacher after two years of study. The Queensland Government realised there was an urgent need for qualified teachers in the many new state high schools being established around Queensland.
The first year was full-time study at The University of Queensland, followed by a year at Kelvin Grove Teachers’ College where I gained a Certificate in Secondary Education. We were also expected to complete our tertiary studies while teaching. After a year teaching Chemistry, History and Music at Trinity Bay State High School in Cairns, in 1962 I was transferred to Harristown State High School in Toowoomba. I would drive from Toowoomba to Brisbane to attend evening lectures in French. I graduated with an Arts degree, majoring in French and Chemistry, in 1964.
I spent a short period studying in France, then in 1973 I moved to a school in Melbourne, teaching French, German and a beginners’ class in Indonesian. I returned to Queensland in 1974 and worked at several schools, in particular Marist College, Ashgrove, where I spent 20 years as Head of French.
Beyond the classroom, I was a member of the Modern Languages Teachers’ Association and the Alliance Française. I have also been involved in developing the Senior Curriculum in French including as Chair of the State Review Panel from 1983 to 2005.
I found my teaching career to be incredibly rewarding, whether in the classroom or with cultural and sporting co-curricular activities. It has been a privilege to be influential in so many young lives and to have enjoyed the support of many wonderful colleagues.
You were involved with moderating the QCS Test for many years. Can you please tell us about that?
I believe the Queensland Core Skills (QCS) Test was something special in the education sector—a set of external tests based on the common curriculum elements which, together with school-based subject specific assessment, was used to rank the achievement of students in their final year.
I was involved from the very beginning, from the introduction of the Short Response Paper in 1991 until the final QCS Test in 2019. Markers came from all over Queensland and the camaraderie engendered by everyone was unequalled. In the later years of the QCS Test, all marking was completed onsite at Brisbane Girls Grammar School and I always looked forward to that first week of the September school holidays—memories of my own Grammar days would come flooding back, even though the Main Campus is so different now.
How many years have you been involved with the Old Girls Association?
I have always been an active member of the Old Girls Association. I was a committee member in 1959 but my teaching appointments took me away from Brisbane until 1974. However, I kept in touch through my subscription and annual giving. I think it was about 15 years ago that I decided to nominate for the OGA Management Committee. It is a privilege to be connected with the School and with so many others who are passionate about girls’ education.
Why have you chosen to include a gift to Brisbane Girls Grammar School in your will?
I believe that Girls Grammar continues to offer an exceptional education for girls, and I would like to contribute to that purpose. I am very grateful for the sacrifice my parents made to send me to BGGS and I am delighted, and encouraged, to see the opportunities that Grammar girls enjoy. One way I can help the School achieve its future projects is by including a gift to Brisbane Girls Grammar School in my will. That is something that I have been very happy to do.
Sophia Beanland Circle
For many people, a gift in their will is the most powerful and meaningful philanthropic contribution they will ever make. These gifts have a profound impact, by supporting bursary opportunities, excellent facilities for teaching and learning, and academic programs.
Those who elect to include Brisbane Girls Grammar School in their will are now recognised, if they wish, with membership of the Sophia Beanland Circle.
The Sophia Beanland Circle was inaugurated in 2020 and is named in honour of Miss Sophia Beanland, who was appointed Lady Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School in 1882. When Miss Beanland died in 1925, she bequeathed her estate to the School to ensure continued excellence in teaching and learning.
To discuss making a bequest to BGGS, please contact Director of Development and Alumnae Relations, Ms Georgina Anthonisz, on 07 3332 1383, or download the School’s Wills and Bequests brochure via bggs.qld.edu.au/community/giving.