xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: About Noel

About Noel

Boxing Day, 2013.

Noel Bourke spent 43 years teaching in primary schools in Bunbury, Koongamia, Broome, Tranby, Mt Lawley, Donnybrook, Three Springs and Doubleview. 

In 1961, Noel resigned from the Education Department and travelled to Europe.  Between 1961- 64 he taught at Holy Trinity School, at Cookham in Berkshire, U.K. and St Theresa’s Shrine School in Scarborough in Toronto, Canada. He returned to Australia in November,1964, and picked up a teaching job immediately at Broome Junior High School.

He taught at Tranby School (1965-1969) before transferring to Mt Lawley Primary School (1970-1971). At Mt Lawley, Noel taught demonstration lessons for students from newly established Mt Lawley Teachers College and in 1971 became the school's specialist Primary Science Teacher. He was probably the first specialist primary science specialist teacher in WA, or anywhere. 1971 was the first year that Super Numerary teachers were appointed to WA schools and all of the Mt Lawley PS staff wanted a Science Specialist.

As a result of his year as a Primary Science Specialist, Noel was appointed as a lecturer in Mathematics and Science Education at Graylands Teachers’ College in 1972-3.

Setting off to ski the slopes at the Forks of the Credit River.Toronto. 1963
Do you get the idea his skiing was rubbish?
In 1974, he was appointed to the Teacher Education Branch as the Liaison Officer between the Education Department and the five newly autonomous teachers’ colleges, operating as the Western Australian College of Advanced Education, which later became Edith Cowan University.

In 1975 he was promoted as the Primary Principal at Donnybrook District High School, where the family stayed for seven very enjoyable years. In 1982 he was promoted as Principal to Three Springs Primary School and then in 1985 took up the position of Principal at Doubleview Primary School. After eighteen very happy and rewarding years as Principal at Doubleview Primary School he retired in December 2002. While at Doubleview Noel worked on many District committees.

In retirement, Noel maintained his interest in education, working as a University Colleague for Edith Cowan University from 2003 till 2013. In this role he was involved in the supervision and mentoring of students teachers on Professional Teaching Practice. From 2005 until 2016, he worked as an Education Consultant on the Support Line for the Western Australian Primary Principals Association. 

Since 1995, Noel has regularly contributed articles to the Principals' Association quarterly publications, WORDS and The Leaders Library. These articles are often solely related to matters of educational interest while others take a more whimsical view of life which the Editor classifies as "On the Lighter Side".  

On several occasions after his retiriment, Noel was invited by the Education Department to undertake administration duties in schools experiencing a crisis of one sort or another. He enjoyed these tasks, which took him to a number of interesting locations around Western Australia. In 2004 he was Relieving Principal at Eneabba School for six weeks and then was Principal for varying periods of one to six weeks at Ngalapita RCS in the Kimberly and Ngurrawaana RCS and Pannawonica Primary School in the Pilbara.

Lesley accompanied Noel to Ngalapita RCS, which is a four hour drive into the desert east of Broome, not far from Nookenbah on the Fitzroy River. Noel was very impressed with the children at Ngalapita. They had very good standards in English and Maths and all of the middle and upper grade children were quite fluent speakers of three languages, English, Yammatgee, the local language, and Kriol, the Lingua Franca for all indigenous people across the Kimberly.  He admired the children's linguistic abilities, in deep contrast to the generally unsuccessful attempts to promote Languages Other Than English in mainstream school in Perth.

The Ngalapita children really appreciated the many songs, dances and musical games that retired Music Specialist , Lesley, taught them.  After their stint in Ngalapita they enjoyed a laid back, week long holiday, in Broome.

In 2005, Noel spent all of the final term as relieving Deputy Principal at Exmouth District High School. Lesley visited Exmouth twice during his nine week stay and they thoroughly enjoyed exploring the pristine beaches and rugged hinterland of the North-West Cape.
During his retirement Noel wrote a book about his early years growing up in Perth, titled “LEON: A Backward Glance at Boyhood.” It includes a chapter or two about life at Sacred Heart Convent School in Highgate and Highgate Christian Brothers in the 1940s and at Aquinas College in the mid 1950s. It also recounts his experiences at Graylands Teachers College (1956-57) and later doing his National Service in the Third field Regiment Royal Australian Artillery in 1958.

LEON was Published in September, 2005. Noel is still awaiting a call from Stephen Spielberg to discuss a movie contract. If you ask him nicely, he may explain why he called his memoir, LEON.

Finished it!  August, 2005

Despite his long and happy career in education, teaching was not Noel's first choice after he obtained his Leaving Certificate at Aquinas College in 1955. He wanted to be a journalist, just like his cousin, Maurie Carr, who worked for Perth's Daily News. 

Noel had seen Maurie at the football and at the Sheffield Shield cricket matches at the WACA. Maurie would be sitting in the press box, sheltered from rain, hail and blazing sunshine, eating cakes and drinking tea and coffee supplied by the Ladies' Social Committee. Not only did Maurie have a free entry to his comfortable seats but he was actually getting paid to write about the game. To Noel this seemed like a dream job. But it was not to be. Although he managed two interviews, he failed to gain a cadetship to either the Daily News or The West Australian. His cousin later told him that there were 120 applicants, most of them graduates and undergraduates.

So reluctantly, and after heavy persuasion from his mother, Noel enrolled at Graylands Teachers College, where he spent two of the happiest years of his life. In 1959 he took up his first teaching position with 54 students in Year 4 at Bunbury Central School. He was surprised and very pleased to find out that he really enjoyed teaching.

However, he did have some connection with journalism. In his second year at Graylands he was appointed as the  Editor of the college newspaper, The Klaxon. Just over twenty years later, in Donnybrook, he became the town's sports correspondent for the Bunbury based South-Western Times. For the next seven years he wrote up every Donnybrook  home game football match and all of the local cricket matches played by the three Donnybrook sides against teams from Bunbury, Boyanup, Collie and Capel. He also wrote articles of a sporting nature for Sports News, a weekly magazine published in Bunbury by Dynamic Print. 

For six years, from 1975 till 1980, Noel was also the General Manager of the Donnybrook Football Club. Among his many duties, one of his roles was to write a weekly column for the South West Football League's match day mn. He wrote under the Non de Plume of Lord Nelson, figuring that as Donnybrook Football Club's General Manager, he could afford to be a very one eyed columnist.

In 1979, Noel, with some friends, started up a local paper called the Donnybrook-Balingup News. He was the founding editor. The paper was a freebie, published monthly and distributed throughout the region.. It soon became very popular because of the strong focus on local content. When Noel left Donnybrook in 1982 the paper was taken over by Robert Holmes a'Court's Collie Mail. It is now published and solweekly as the Donnybrook-Bridgetown-Manjimup-Mail.

Noel and Lesley are very happy that they travelled around the world three times while they were still young and energetic. This included a memorable three  months campervan trip around Europe in 1983 with their three daughters, Jane, Sarah and Emily.

In 1996 they enjoyed another three months around the world adventure, visiting relatives in Canada and enjoying the sights of North America, Europe and Asia. Noel organized the entire trip via the internet.

Since retiring Noel and Lesley have enjoyed holidays throughout Western Australia and also made many trips to the east coast, including a first visit to beautiful Tasmania.

A memorable recent adventure in March, 2014, saw them travelling in  luxury from Fremantle to Sydney on the Queen Mary 2, with stop overs in Adelaide and Melbourne to meet up with friends and relations.

Pre dinner drinks somewhere in the Great Australian Bight. March, 2014.

After a very interesting week in Sydney, staying at the Menzies Hotel, they drove to Melbourne via the Blue Mountains, Jenolan Caves, Canberra and the Kosciuoscko National Park. Then, after a week in  Marvellous Melbourne with relatives and friends they flew back to Perth...for a rest!
After thirty two very happy years in their four bedroom home home in Heathridge, Lesley and Noel downsized and moved to a two bedroom unit in the Ocean Reef Country Club on December 19, 2016. Since September, 2017, Noel has produced a monthly newsletter for the complex.
The pool at our new "Holiday Home" in Ocean Reef.

Happy in our Ocean Reef "Holiday Home".
Noel married Lesley Young on August 26th, 1968. They have three adult daughters. He and Lesley live happily in Perth, where they moved to from Three Springs in December 1984. When they are not both being doting grandparents to their eight grand children they enjoy beach walks, meals with their family and friends, enjoying summer barbecues, cheering for the Eagles and East Perth, cricket at the WACA, concerts with WASO, the WA Opera, Morning Melodies at His Majesty's and reading, writing his Blog, "The Font of Noelage", listening to good music, laughing and singing as much as possible.
Taking liberties with a lady. Easter, 1964

August 26th, 1968

At a family wedding. Circa 1969. The jugs aren't only ours. There were eight people sitting at the table.

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