Thursday, November 16, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
Jenny Leeding, a teacher’s aide at Chelona State School has recently retired after demonstrating unwavering dedication and commitment as a valued member of staff for an impressive 48 years.
Jenny began her career as a Cleaner for Chelona State School in 1975.
In 1980, Principal Ken Stein arrived at the school, quickly acknowledging the passion Jenny had for the immaculate upkeep of the school. Ken offered her a host of opportunities to advance her career at Chelona, including giving her time to study and finish her Certificate III in Education.
This was a great achievement for Jenny, who never thought she would be capable of achieving this. It took her two years to complete the certificate course, which stands to this day as her greatest and most proud achievement.
A challenge for Jenny came along when she was appointed as the administration assistant, requiring her to take care of the school finances. With no previous experience, Jenny was still eagerly ready for the challenge.
In the early days, the finances were done in a ledger book by hand, later moving onto electronic systems. Her days became busily engrossed with early morning and late afternoon cleaning of the school, as well as alternating between her role as a teacher aide and administrator during the day.
Jenny has been involved in assisting every year level (besides Prep), with most classes at Chelona split into two grades. The idea of splitting each class into two groups allowed teachers to introduce new concepts, and for Jenny to aid in teaching the lessons.
Jenny had a passion for working with struggling students in the classroom and assisting them with anything they needed. Her greatest memory as a teacher aide was giving lessons on touch typing, with students leaving to high-school having mastered the skill.
Teachers of the high-schools would ask the students, ‘Who taught you how to type like that?’ and the students would respond: ‘Mrs Leeding.’ Sometimes she would meet students later in life, who would give her a big hug and express their gratitude for being taught to type.
Jenny’s greatest success story involving her students was of a mother and daughter duo, Nikki and Dekota, who both attended Chelona State School. Jenny taught them both how to read, and today, Nikki runs her own business and Dekota is an apprentice hairdresser. Jenny is very proud of how much they have achieved in life and is happy to have played a role in their learning journey.
Jenny lives by the quote, ‘Treat all people the same way you would like to be treated.’ A testament to her diligence and personable nature towards her students.
Chelona State School have honoured her with the ‘Jenny Leeding Sporting Trophy’, which is given out to students who have competed in higher levels of sport, not just at school.
Jenny has been welcomed to stay as long as she likes as a teacher aide at Chelona State School, however she plans to enjoy her retirement by going fishing with her husband and hopes to spend Christmas with her family and two great-grandchildren.
Jenny (in pink) with one of her beloved classes
Jenny has devoted 49 years to Chelona State School
Photo credit: Sinead Porter