Dorothy was born in 1916 in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg. Shortly after her birth, the family moved to Broken Hill, where her father worked until end of World War I. They then moved to Gippsland where her parents started a farm. Dorothy completed her primary education at a two-teacher school in Woodside and at the end of year eight she went to Melbourne to board with an aunt to finish her schooling. First, she attended Preston Girls’ School and then went to Melbourne Girls’ High School. She remembers that ‘not many schools went up to Year 12 – it was called Leaving Honours – but my father believed girls should be educated and should go too’. This enabled Dorothy to continue onto tertiary education, gaining a teaching qualification. She remembers that she ‘always wanted to be a teacher’, and worked first in the primary, then secondary teaching. She notes how ‘everyone had to start as a primary teacher’ and describes her first teaching position at a one-teacher school in St Leonards, near Geelong: ‘There were twenty-eight [students], which was the biggest [number] you could have in a one teacher school without a sewing teacher … you’d have to have everything up on the board when they came in’. Dorothy went on to teach in a range of schools during the 1950s – Lloyd Street Central, Ballarat Girls, Hampton High and McKinnon High. She then moved to Camberwell High and was made a senior mistress for the girls, which involved a significant disciplinary role. Dorothy was involved in developing a course at Camberwell High called ‘Human Relationships’, which involved sex education and other aspects of human behaviour. She was also given freedom to adapt the history curriculum so that there were no longer standalone American and British History subjects, but instead focused on world history. Dorothy remembers she was able to do many things that were unconventional during her teaching career because of the way she understood and interacted with the students: ‘so we were able to do those things – it’s not just the case of the kids, it’s your relationship with them’.