When Susan Roberts flew from Wales to Sydney in search of adventure and a new challenge, she had no way of knowing her first school would come to feel like home.
Now, more than 37 years after she first step foot in St Agnes Catholic High School, the food technology teacher is ready for her next adventure.
It was 1979 and the Rooty Hill school was accepting male students for the first time when Ms Roberts started her new job. It was a far cry from the school where she started her career.
“I’d come from a very big comprehensive school in the north of England and I came to this very small Catholic school,” Ms Roberts said.
“It was a culture shock because I came from somewhere that was quite tough to this lovely little Catholic school in the western suburbs.”
The recently-arrived teacher spent six months living in Manly before she decided to settle in western Sydney.
“It was just somewhere I knew I fitted. The kids were just great, really friendly and welcoming, and the staff were the same – really warm, welcoming people. I just fitted in and settled in and thought ‘right, this is it’.”
I’ve been blessed because I’ve come to work every day happy.
Ms Roberts’ service and dedication was first recognised when the school’s Technical and Applied Science building was named after her – an honour normally reserved for priests and nuns.
This year the school also nominated her for a Pride of Australia medal.
Ms Roberts said the recognition is “very affirming” but she shies away from the “fuss”.
“It’s a love affair. You do it because you love it.
“You have to be prepared to put all the extra hours in. It’s not a nine-to-five job.”
Over the years Ms Roberts has seen “huge changes” to the staff, curriculum and uniform, but she said the biggest revolution is technology.
“It’s changed everything. It changes the way you teach, it changes the way kids learn, it’s changed the whole world,” she said.
Despite the many changes, Ms Robert said the teachers’ commitment to their students remains a constant.
“We’re lucky to have the kids and they’re very lucky to have this staff,” she said.
“I’ve been blessed because I’ve basically come to work every day happy. That’s a pretty good thing to have for 38 years of your life – to come in every day and look forward to it.”