The Esperance community and Education Department will next week be losing one of their most outstanding influences.
There would be few teaching careers as exceptional as that of Pauline Grewar, who next Friday retires as Principal of Castletown Primary School.
Spanning over 60 years in education, Pauline has maintained an incomparable work ethic, unquestionable integrity and has demanded high levels of performance and achievement of herself, her staff and students.
At the same time she has been an approachable “open door policy” leader who genuinely cares for her pupils and staff while recognising that building strong relationships with families and the wider community is integral in maintaining a school that lives up to its motto of “Inspire, Educate and Succeed”.
What drives someone to love their profession as much as Pauline does, who at nearly 80 years of age is as fervent, energetic, progressive and charismatic as when she began teaching?
Much of her drive and ambition was fostered in a childhood which, while full of love and happiness, was also one of poverty and extreme frugality.
Pauline NInham was born on October 12, 1937 the second child of Bill and Edna and sibling to six other children.
Edna had endured a life of hardship and was determined that her own children would succeed in life and make a worthwhile contribution to society.
Pauline’s father was an industrial chemist by profession but chose to work as a master craftsman, building rowing sculls and providing all the colleges around Perth with their boats.
In the post-war era of deprivation and rationing the family experienced financial hardship, to the extent that Edna saved up newspapers to use as blankets in winter.
She was a strong and resourceful woman, gifted in her own right and although frustrated in not being able to express her talents was a role model to her children with her ability to make ends meet, while creating a close- knit, happy home.
Pauline strove to meet her mother’s expectations.
She was promoted a year at Lathlain Primary School then won a 5 year scholarship to St Hilda’s College. However, much to her dismay and due to financial constraints Pauline was forced to leave St Hilda’s and became an inaugural fourth year student at Kent St High School.
After one year she again had to leave school. Devastated, but undaunted she enrolled for three nights at Night School while working during the day sorting seeds for the Agricultural Department.
After three months her parents sent her back to school and she achieved her Leaving Certificate that year.
Understanding that her ambition to be a doctor was not financially realistic Pauline gained a Teacher’s Bursary and completed the two years of training at Claremont Teachers College.
In 1956, at the age of just 18 years, she was posted to Boulder Infants School.
From the start she loved her profession, particularly early childhood teaching, and the following year was posted to the remote town of Esperance.
The journey from Kalgoorlie by train took a tiring 12 hours but weariness fell away when a line up of young men stood in waiting at the station to greet the new teachers.
At this time Esperance was changing from a holiday destination for Goldfields residents to a thriving agricultural region as the poor sand plain soil was converted into highly successful farming properties.
The town was bursting at the seams, with classrooms of 48 children spread over town.
Pauline lived at Dempster Homestead, at the time a boarding house facility.
It was not unusual to have horses looking through windows or cows grazing in Dempster St.
As well as teaching, Pauline, with typical enthusiasm, entered into sporting and cultural events in town and it was on the tennis court that she met her love match – young agricultural advisor, Geoff Grewar.
They were engaged that year and married in May the following year.
In the archaic era of that time, females were the inferior gender in terms of salary and entitlements and upon marriage women were forced to resign from teaching.
However, it was an exciting time in town as Americans arrived and the town boomed.
Geoff was offered a position to develop the vast eastern area to pasture and the family settled at Howick.
Despite raising two sons, Doug and Mark and later daughter Jenny, Pauline found the isolation and loneliness stifling and was relieved when Geoff decided to go into private practice and the family moved back to town.
Immediately Pauline was offered a position at Esperance Primary School and, contrary to the popular opinion of the time that mothers should be at home with their children, accepted the position willingly.
Pauline was a brilliant classroom and music teacher and in 1970 she attained the position of Deputy at Castletown Primary School.
That same year, in collaboration with Doug Jecks, her first Principal in Esperance and an influential colleague, Pauline wrote the P.P.A phonics series of books which became a huge success throughout Australia and New Zealand.
In 1972 Geoff won the seat of Roe for the Liberal Party and thus for nine years Pauline willingly added the challenges of being a political wife to her everyday life.
In 1979, while living in Perth for a year, Pauline worked on Practice Staff at Churchlands during the day while studying to upgrade her qualifications to four year teacher status.
As if not busy enough she again co-authored with Doug Jecks and they wrote a series of spelling books for years 2 -7 called “Spelling Strength”, again a popular teacher resource.
The family returned to Esperance in 1980 and finally in 1986, with becoming a Principal now a possibility for women if they had served 15 years as a Deputy, Pauline won the position she had long sought, Principal of Castletown.
Following politics, Geoff returned to full time farming on their Thomas River property and on a station, 235 km from Norseman on the Eyre Highway.
He commuted each week and for 14 years Pauline provided enough food for him and several workmen for the week, up until the station was sold in 2002.
Over her sixty years of educating Pauline has seen remarkable changes in education, which mirror the more complex society of today.
She has been privileged to be part of an era of transformation of attitudes towards women and is a true example of what resilience, steadfastness, ambition and dedication can achieve.
There is no doubt that Pauline will be missed at Castletown Primary School and that she in turn will miss the daily commute from Blue Haven, the interaction with staff and students and the opportunity to develop students to their potential.
Husband Geoff is confident that Pauline will not be bored in retirement.
Always known for her impeccable dress-sense and grooming, she loves to dress up and attending social events, she is a wonderful cook, dressmaker and gardener and will listen to classical music and opera for hours.
Now spending time with her family, including nine grandchildren, will no longer be governed by school holidays.
An open assembly at 1.00pm and a High Tea at 4.30pm will be held at the school on Friday 7 th April to acknowledge and thank Pauline for her outstanding contribution to Castletown School and education as a whole.
The public is invited to both events but RSVP is needed by phoning the school on 90 715599.