Home' The Chronicle : Canberra Chronicle 02-12-2014 Contents HISTORIC FAMILY
Jene Baker, 98, and Sheilah Barrie, 97 -- the daughters of John and Dorothy Saunders --
will share their history at their first family reunion.
Photo: Matt Bedford
Saunders sisters at the
heart of family reunion
They witnessed the opening of Parliament
House by the Duke and Duchess of York, saw
Sir Charles Kingsford Smith land at Canberra
Airport and lived in an Acton workman's
cottage that was later subsumed by Lake Burley
Now the Saunders family, steeped in
Canberra history, is having its first reunion.
John and Dorothy Saunders moved their
family to Canberra in 1925 with their children
-- Jene, Sheilah and George. Two more children,
John Junior and Lucy, would be born in the
Bruce Barrie, son of Sheilah Barrie (nee
Saunders), said he expected up to 60
descendants from across the country to flock to
Mr Barrie said they were keen to organise the
reunion for Jene, 98, and Sheilah, 97.
"We wanted to get all the grandkids and
relatives that haven't seen them for a long time
and let them pass it down to the next generation
-- the things they need to know about the
family,'' he said. "So that is the main reason for
John was chauffeur to Sir John Butters, chief
commissioner of the Federal Capital
Commission and later responsible for
timetabling and checking Canberra's first buses.
The family would move from their Acton
cottage to a small house behind the Kingston
Powerhouse, where they had two milking cows.
Jene, Sheilah and George attended Telopea
Park School in 1925, the only public school in
Canberra at the time, before they switched to
Ainslie School in 1927 and then moved back to
Telopea for high school.
Canberra was a genuine bush town back then
and Mr Barrie said the family was well known
in the tight-knit Kingston community.
Jene and Sheilah are the last survivors of five
John Junior went missing in action in Korea
in 1953 while George died in 1980 and Lucy
died in 1993.
The Saunders family includes five children,
nine grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and
Mr Barrie said four generations would be
present for the reunion on December 27.
Inspiring our scientists of the future
Member for Fraser
Geoff McNamara had a dreadful experience
with science when he was at high school. But it
As he put it, The empty green-box
laboratories and sterile teaching that I grew up
with made me want to do better than that for my
students, and make science more real and
Today, Geoff's science classroom at Melrose
High is known as Mr Mac's Lab. It contains a
plethora of equipment, including a seismometer,
dinosaurs, GPS antenna and spacecraft.
Students are encouraged to rigorously test
theories against the evidence. For example, one
experiment with a mirror and laser allows
students to see that they can flex' a brick wall
by pushing on it.
Every fortnight, Geoff brings a new scientist
into the classroom. The students are encouraged
not just to listen, but to challenge the speaker
with their questions -- a fundamental principle in
scientific inquiry. Former students have ended
up studying medicine, plant biology and
teaching. Some have joined the I was taught by
Mr Mac'' Facebook group.
Meeting Geoff, it's hard not to be impressed.
A former optical mechanic, he has published
more than 100 articles and three books on topics
such as dark matter, pulsars and gravitational
This year, Geoff won the Prime Minister's
Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in
Secondary Schools--afirst for the ACT. His
success is a great reminder that science -- taught
well -- is a fascinating discipline (for my own
part, I'm currently trying to get a rudimentary
understanding of genetics - a topic that I feel
woefully ignorant about).
The success of Geoff McNamara is also
testament to the value of encouraging new
pathways into teaching. He entered the
profession at age 40, about two decades later
than the typical teacher. Alternative entry
pathways into teaching are useful in ensuring
that one of Australia's most important
professions can attract and retain the very best.
Science education is fundamental to our
nation's future. I'm proud that Australia's best
science teacher works right here in Canberra,
inspiring the researchers of the future.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 10
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