Mrs Jean Reid
Thursday, 1 September 2022
In the 20 or so years I’ve been involved with the Daramalan Alumni, I have often had the sad duty to inform you of the passing of one of our members. Today is filled with sorrow as I announce the passing of Mrs Jean Reid, one of the original Daramalan teachers from 1962, who died this evening aged a remarkable 106.
Jean was born in Tenterfield NSW in 1916, later moving to Nowra and Cessnock as her father was a teacher and accepted a variety of appointments over his career.
Jean went on to train at Armidale Teachers College before taking a full-time position at Crown St Boys School in Surrey Hills Sydney.
She went on to marry another school teacher, Jim Reid, before moving to Canberra and initially teaching at Turner Infants School before coming to Daramalan for our opening in February 1962 to teach primary students who were part of the College at the time.
She joined Miss Mary Donnelly (now Mrs Mary Barton) as the only two female teachers amongst 30 odd priests and brothers at the all-boys school as Daramalan was at the time. Unfortunately the religious staff were not used to women, and as an example of the ‘problems’ this posed, both Jean and Mary were asked to have their morning break and lunch in a separate segregated area of the College. Jean recalled that ‘we just picked up our cups and walked across and sat down in the middle’, stating that ‘we’re part of the family’. She credited Fr McMahon, the original Headmaster, with making them welcome and establishing what she later referred to as the ‘MSC family’.
Another issue was that back in the sixties, many of the religious staff were not teacher-trained - although some had academic qualifications – so Jean gladly gave teacher training after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays to untrained staff and brothers from the Residence which was very much appreciated. She was quoted in later years as saying that ‘she pioneered the way for the brothers to become less cleaners and cooks and more educationalists’.
Mrs Reid (as she was always respectfully known) went on to establish the Department of Remedial (later Special) Studies in 1967 which was later to became a model for other schools in supporting students who need additional time and effort with their academic development. The initial class included boys with low IQs, autism, physical disabilities, emotional upsets and irregular attendance with later classes including boys in wheelchairs, boys from homes where little English was spoken and hyperactive boys. Her dedication even extended to ensuring the tuck shop did not supply unsuitable food to ‘her’ boys.
She organised various study tours of Sweden, the UK, and Switzerland to investigate the most recent developments in Special Ed. Along with Br Lysaught, she also managed to fit in time to coach various school Hockey teams.
Jean and John had six children but she was still committed to community work including National President of the Catholic Women’s League, member of the committee for World Development and delegate for the World Congress of Catholic Women in Rome.
She retired from Daramalan in 1981 to act as a special education consultant to the MSC colleges around Australia and was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 1985. The College recognised the impact she had by naming the “Reid Wing” in her honour.
She eventually retired moving down to Rosedale on the South Coast where she sadly lost her home in the 2019 bushfires. Through the generosity of ex-Daramalan students, we raised over $6,000 to assist her in re-establishing her new life in Moyura and, when presented with the funds said, “My years at Daramalan were amongst the best years of my life, and it meant such a lot to me to be remembered so kindly, and so generously by so many people”.
Jean died peacefully on Thursday 1 September 2022 leaving behind a large and loving family along with dozens of Daramalan boys who would not be where they are today, without the care, patience and attention bestowed on them by Mrs Reid. She will be sadly missed by so many people and in our 60th year, we say ‘goodbye and thank you‘ to a true Daramalan icon.
RIP Mrs Reid.
[Written by Bernard Kane – one of Mrs Reid’s many grateful students]