Leonie Orr retiring

May 17, 2017

Retiring Savernake Public School Principal, Leonie Orr with students and relieving principal, Angelique Bruce.

After 34 years teaching during the past 40 years, Leonie Orr of Mulwala will officially retire as Savernake Public School Principal on June 29.

Leonie, whose first teaching appointment was at Savernake in 1977, for two years, has been in the top job at Savernake for the past 15 years.

“It’s a wonderful public school enabling children to have exceptional education and opportunities to pursue interests,” the 62-year-old highly respected principal told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.

“There are lots of facilities, lots of resources - excellent facilities. When Savernake Public School was burned down on 20th November 1980 (bush fire), a new school was built. We have technology, a library, three tennis courts, a sports ground and playground equipment.”

Adored by her students, Leonie rates their success as her main teaching career highlight. “From this tiny country school, to see kids go on to become successful in their employment, sport or whatever is most satisfying,” she said.

That solid foundation at Savernake has started the path of students becoming lawyers, teachers, doctors, Hansard reporters at Parliament House and journalists.

Back in the 1970s, up to 35 students attended Savernake Public School, around 23 for the early 2000s  to the current number of nine. Projections for the next two years for the school established 132 years ago show an upward trend.

Actively involved in establishing the two-day peer support camp some 10 years ago for Savernake, Mulwala and Oaklands students - which helped students regarding resilience, self esteem and initiative - was a highlight for the retiring principal.

Visiting Canberra every three years for a week apiece will also be a fond memory. As will the annual Savernake sports day, the concerts at Savernake Hall and of course, end-of-year presentation night for academic and sporting achievements.

Relieving principal at Savernake, Angelique Bruce, described Leonie as “a role model for women who has juggled raising a family and had a successful career”.

“She has a wonderful, long association with Savernake Public School and the wider Savernake community,” Angelique, who has been involved with the school for 13 years, said.

“Leonie has an incredible depth of knowledge. Her level of support provided was invaluable. In a professional capacity, Leonie has been a mentor for me and I truly valued her opinion, support and guidance. She had incredibly strong collegial relationships.  

“Her contribution and dedication to primary education is to be admired, and she had a great mind for maths.”

In fact, for Leonie who relieved at Corowa High School on occasions, it may well have been as a mathematics teacher in the secondary school environment. But she chose the primary school environment.

“I’m looking forward to retirement so I can send time with my grandchildren and look forward to some travel,” she said. With her married grown  up children David in New York, in finance, James teaching in Canberra and Sally in Darwin, Leonie has some distances to travel.

Well qualified with a Diploma of Teaching and Bachelor of Education, vastly experienced with 17 years at Savernake, 10 at Oaklands, four at Mulwala and relief teaching, and a great contributor to the education of so many children for 34 years, Leonie has certainly made her mark throughout the whole district, including the Deniliquin and Albury networks.

Savernake, Oaklands and Mulwala communities express a huge thank you and wish Leonie best wishes for her retirement.   

“I’ve been very, very lucky - always enjoying going to work and enjoying the sharing of kids’ lives. There have been challenges but that makes you a stronger person,” she said.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have good people around me. I know I put everything into it. It was more than a job.

“I’m really going to miss the kids and the community.” As her interim replacement said to me: ‘We’re all missing Leonie’.

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