LIFE AFTER TEACHING: Jean Jones is looking forward to joining a choir in Maryborough.
LIFE AFTER TEACHING: Jean Jones is looking forward to joining a choir in Maryborough. Erica Murree

Spotlight on Biggenden woman Jean Jones

EVERYONE should have the opportunity to go to university.

For Jean Jones, it was the best thing she ever did.

"I loved it," she said.

"Brisbane was all so new to a country mouse like me.

"It opened up a whole new world.

"It was a wonderful experience."

Jean Jones grew up in the Biggenden area firstly at Glenburnie. It was named by her grandfather, Frederick Templeman, after the place in Mt Gambier where he grew up.

She moved to Lilyponds aged 13 and undertook her schooling by correspondence before a school bus took her and her brother Les to Coringa State School.

Her secondary schooling was at Biggenden before Years 11-12 at Gayndah, where she stayed at a hostel.

Jean's father, Vince Templeman, had organised a lift on Mondays and she caught the train back from Gayndah from Didcot or Muan.

She remembers one Friday evening coming back from Didcot and being stopped by a flooded gully.

Jim Taylor was also stopped there.

He was bringing his future wife, Bev, home to meet his parents. Because he could not get home, they all ended up at Lilyponds, where they played cards until Chowey Creek had dropped far enough for him to cross.

Jean's life changed when she gained a Commonwealth scholarship to university in Brisbane.

"I always wanted to be a school teacher," she said.

"My aunt was an English head of department.

"You could say she inspired me.

"She sounded tough but had a heart of gold."

Heading to the big smoke for university was the first time Jean had been to Brisbane.

She said it was a steep learning curve, plus she was a bit young, having started school when only four.

Her first posting was Proston in 1976, where she taught Year 4.

An outing with three other female teachers to a dance at Hivesville is where Jean was to meet her future husband, Albert Jones.

They married and Jean resigned from teaching when her children were born.

In 1984, after undertaking a 10-week transition course, Jean became a secondary school teacher.

While she was in Brisbane taking the course, Albert looked after the girls.

"I think they had sausages with mashed potato and mashed pumpkin each night," she said.

Her new role took her to Proston secondary department, then Murgon high, before Albert and Jean bought out her brother's share of the property and they came home to Lilyponds in 1997.

Jean was able to transfer to Gayndah, where she taught for four years before joining the Biggenden staff.

At Proston, Gayndah and then Biggenden, Jean pursued her love of literature as the teacher-librarian.

She said a teacher-librarian was important to the education system.

"I myself love books, both cataloguing them and engaging and helping kids find that special book to read."

Jean retired from teaching last December.

She said teaching was most satisfying when you showed a student the skills so they could become independent learners.

"I think you call them light bulb moments," she said. "It is just great to see kids learning."

Jean hasn't had time to miss her students as the family property has been sold.

The family moved to Maryborough this week.

Jean plans to join a choir and has a few singing engagements in Wondai and Proston next month.

Music has always been an important part of her life.

Her father, Vince Templeman, played the accordion and Jean played the mouth organ.

Thanks to her aunt, Jean had piano lessons in Year 12, passing the Grade 2 AMEB exams that year with a High Distinction.

In total, she learned the piano for more than three years and reached Grade 6 standard, which is the equivalent of Year 12 at school.

But it wasn't until Jean was in her 30s she began singing in public, accompanied by herself on keyboard.

Albert and Jean will be back in Biggenden to provide the music for the Anzac Day service.

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