Helen was born in Redcliffs, northern Victoria, and is the youngest of three children. The family moved to Lancefield during World War II and in 1945 they moved to West Preston, where her father was a vicar. A little later they moved to Blackburn and Helen attended Camberwell High, before finishing her secondary schooling at University High School. She was accepted into the latter due to her good results in the Leaving Certificate and she remembers that education, particularly for girls, was highly valued in her family. After completing her Matriculation, she went on to study teaching on a studentship, support that she recalls enabled many of her contemporaries to gain further education, as their families were not able to support them financially while at university. Her first teaching position was at Mont Albert Central School in the 1950s, before she moved to Brunswick Girls’ School to teach English, Geography and History, as well as some Maths ‘because they were short of arithmetic teachers’. She remembers that ‘you sort of pitched in and taught whatever’. After having time off to have a family, Helen went back to university to finish her Arts degree and took up teaching again in the 1970s at Montmorency High School. She remembers the ’70s as a very exciting time in education: ‘you had that feeling that people were sort of enthusiastic to do things’. Helen had a significant role in the teaching of Social Studies and led the development of the Community Involvement elective. She engaged students through film, guest speakers and excursions and reflects that ‘they were the most amazing experiences for those kids, that was the sort of teaching I liked, being able to facilitate that, where you were widening kids’ horizons – shocking them a bit, but making them think about what’s going on in the world’.
Primary: Not stated
Secondary: Camberwell High School, Melbourne, Victoria (1940s–1950s)
Secondary: University High School, Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria (1940s–1950s)