As an opal salesperson, Liz Blanks, makes an excellent Japanese teacher!
Having lived in Japan for about year and completed initial tertiary study, Liz got married and moved to Western Australia to start her career as a Japanese tour co-ordinator in Perth. She worked in opal sales at the Perth airport, in retail at the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort and at the Joondalup Country Club golf pro shop before even setting foot in a school.
When she did finally tread the boards of a classroom, it was in schools in both Western Australia and Queensland as far flung as Tom Price Senior High School, All Saints College, Cloncurry State School, Ardross Primary School, Swanbourne Primary School and Willeton Senior High School. She also spent some time in remote mining towns in WA and far north Queensland.
It all began with an Arts degree at Melbourne University, with qualifications snow-balling from there. She did Geography as part of a double major in her Arts degree and then a Graduate Diploma of Australian Studies (Tourism) at Monash University. It was not until she got to Western Australia that she did a Graduate Diploma of Education with a double major in Japanese and Geography, at the University of Western Australia.
“I would have to say that Ms Robyn Kurrle inspired me to continue with the study of Geography after school.
“She always made the class think beyond the average answer and rewarded our answers with positive comments. She expected exemplary manners and courtesy to others in her classes.
“I had aspirations to work in tourism so becoming a teacher was a surprise to me, let alone a teacher at Girton, having been a student here!
“Learning a second language is like opening another section of your brain, both in terms of the language itself, but also in terms of the cultural insights that can be gained.
“It is very important that second languages are learned as early in life as possible, as it is very difficult to learn a language really well after 12-13 years of age.
“Girton Grammar students are very fortunate that they can start learning two languages from Preparatory right through to Year 12,” she said.
Liz moved back to Bendigo after having three children, to be closer to family. She commenced teaching at Bendigo Senior Secondary College before teaching Japanese and Year 5 at Girton.
Liz attended Girton when it was on the Kennington campus. She says present day Girton is quite different and more urban, with high tech buildings that the Kennington campus did not have.
Like many other teachers who were students at Girton, Liz believes that although the physicality of the school has changed enormously, the high expectations placed upon both students and staff have not changed much at all.