November 24th, 2022The little school in the heart of the Wombat.
And the little school that could!
Last Wednesday, Bullarto Primary School, the little bush school in the heart
of the Wombat Forest, had a celebration.
It was, according to principal of six years Jo Pegg, bigger than Ben Hur. And for
Jo started at the school in 2017 with just four students and a memorandum from
the Education Department that the school may, or may not, close that year. Either
way they would support her.
But Jo, who this year was inducted onto the Hepburn Shire Council’s Heather
Mutimer Honour Roll for her tireless work for social inclusion and inclusive learning,
wasn’t ready to let the community lose their school.
“I always said, from the start, that when we hit student numbers of 20 I would be
happy. And while we have not hit 20, just 18, we decided not to wait for the next two
kids, we had to celebrate.
“We have also been able to, for the first time, hire a full-time teacher, and not
with just a 12-month contract, but ongoing.”
That teacher is Liam Kennedy who has been working at the school as a student
teacher for the year. It was hoped he would stay, but in small schools nothing is taken
And along with Liam, Jo also has funding for another teacher “we don’t know
who yet, but they will be great” and Ian Hume, who retired from teaching but has
been helping out three days a week, will return next year for one day a week.
“That is what we celebrated last Wednesday, being able to have the staff to create
consistent learning for our kids and let me do the principal stuff I need to do away
from the classroom,” Jo said.
“I could actually not be involved in teaching any more, just work as a principal
which is pretty unheard of in small schools, but that is not me. I am still going to put
aside an entire day for teaching and will keep helping out where I can. That is my
payback to the community for entrusting me with their children’s education.
Thanks to our volunteers!
“The celebration is also about our community, to all
the parents and their volunteer work, who have helped get
Bullarto Primary School to where it is. To Bakers Delight
for providing bread for our Breakfast Club, to the Central
Highlands Goat Society for helping with our goat program
and to the SES for all the work they did to help us during
last year’s storm.
“It’s about celebrating everything that has helped us get
to this point. I am just over the moon.”
Mind you, celebrations, when they are a surprise, are not easy. Jo said she had to
find a way to keep Liam in the dark about the ceremony, while calling his parents to
ask them to come along to the ceremony. And then there were the 24 cupcakes to
order and parents to invite.
“I don’t usually announce my staffing until the end of the year and it’s usually in
the newsletter, but I thought we have hit the goal, let’s celebrate now.
“I know the parents are rapt to know Liam is staying with us and so is Ian
And of course Sally O’Leary is still here with me, since I started. She and
I are now going to get excited about being in the office at the same time to get the
administration done, not having to steal time from the classroom duties.”
Bullarto Primary School’s motto is: A great little bush school offering fantastic
personalised education, all in the heart of the Wombat. It could also be: The little
school that could. And did.
For any enquiries contact Jo Pegg on 5348 5559.
Words: Donna Kelly | Images: Kyle Barne