Radford’s Longest Serving Employee – Boyd Gibson
Boyd Gibson joined Radford College in 1985 (38.5 years ago).
What brought you to Radford? Was it your first teaching job?
In 1983, I was in my third year of study at the Canberra College of Advanced Education (now UC) and would watch with great interest the initial construction of Radford College from the window of my Action bus (432) that I caught daily from Dickson. While I didn’t graduate until the end of 1984, I kept an ever-vigilant watch on the ‘positions vacant’ page of the Canberra Times to see the subjects taught at this new Anglican school.
It soon became apparent that geography was one of the subjects offered in the curriculum and I was hopeful that Radford would hire an extra geography teacher in its second year. However, it transpired that no such position was needed. Nevertheless, I viewed this as a minor setback and, being a glass-half-full type of guy, I applied anyway. In the end, it proved a shrewd move as one of the founding geography teachers had resigned at late notice. The next step was a meeting with Jock Mackinnon and Graeme Wigg, and the rest is history (38.5 years to be precise and still counting).
As an aside, Radford College was not my first teaching position as I had been offered a one-term position (in the old three-term years) at Kambah High School, which required a geography teacher post-haste. The school contacted the C.C.A.E Education Faculty, which forwarded my name. Consequently, I was able to start my teaching career even before I’d finished my final semester of university.
Had you always wanted to teach geography?
In 1976 and 1977, I attended Year 10 at Dickson High and Year 11 at Dickson College, respectively – it was the same school but was transitioning to the new secondary college system. During those years, I was lucky enough to have two of the most inspirational teachers – one was a geography and economics teacher and the other was a geography and P.E. teacher. Both Mr Frank Lynch and Mr Paul May made the job of teaching look incredibly worthwhile, so my mind was made up – geography teaching here I come! I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Paul again in Term 1, 2020 when a colleague of mine, Jane Lilley, organised the most awesome excursion to the Eurobodalla Shire for our Year 10 geographers. Jane had lined up a guest speaker from the South Durras Branch of Landcare – none other than the wonderful Paul May. This was one of the most special moments of my career.
What does Radford mean to you?
Besides being a home away from home, Radford has allowed me to meet some of the most amazing people – staff, students and parents. Some of my best friends in life have a Radford connection in one way or another, and this I give thanks to daily. Technology aside, walking into a Radford classroom looks very similar to when I first started here in 1985. Students are respectful and allowed to get on with their learning in a safe, controlled and stimulating environment. Personally, I feel incredibly privileged to be able to say that my whole career has been based around Radford College; it’s my equivalent of James Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr Chips or R.F. Delderfield’s To Serve Them All My Days. The latter is my favourite BBC mini-series, which I watched time and time again in my first year as a student-teacher.
What have been your proudest achievements at Radford?
Regardless of the time of day, week, term or anything I’m dealing with outside of Radford College, I always try my best to project a positive and happy demeanour in the classroom and around the school. Now entering the ‘grumpy old man’ phase of life, I still try my best to demonstrate respect to and for every student whom I have a connection with, knowing that there is a good chance that respect will be reciprocated and even flow into other relationships and aspects of a young person’s life. This may not seem like a big achievement to some, but it is to me!
What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed here?
For the parents and grandparents who experienced Radford in the 1980s and 1990s, the buildings – size and functionality – must represent the biggest physical change. The biggest change from a teaching and pedagogy point of view revolves around the introduction of technology. I have no doubt that computers represent the future but, at times, they also present an incredible distraction in the classroom.
What does the future hold for you?
This is a tough question. At the end of my first year (1985), I had spent 4 per cent of my life at Radford. At the end of 2023, it will be a staggering 63 per cent of my life. As my family would be quick to tell you, I do not like change. For example, I have never sent a text and never will – I just ring people up (it drives them crazy sometimes). I would really like to complete a nice round 40 years here at Radford (2024), after which I will check in with my tea leaves to see what’s in the offing; after all, there is a lovely overlap in the terms geography and tasseography (feel free to look it up).