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18

the ruyton reporter

News

News of Former Students & Staff

Singing Kites

It is very pleasing when something we publish in the Reporter prompts another Old

Ruytonian to write in with her news. Following the articles on page 14 –

Making a

Difference

– in the Autumn 2015 edition, we were delighted to hear from Carolyn

Watts (’65) and fellow Old Ruytonian Lyn Hotchin (Johnson ’61) about another non-

governmental organisation (NGO), Singing Kites

(www.singingkites.org

)

Singing Kites is a school in the rural village

of Tanop in Takeo province, south of Phnom

Penh, Cambodia, which was founded in 2009

by Lyn. She started the school after a chance

meeting with Tanop man Tith Tek, who had

a passion for education and was working as

a moto driver in Phnom Penh while trying

to put himself through school. At Tith Tek’s

invitation, Lyn and her daughter visited

Tanop. Lyn talked with the elders and

‘their

voices resonated with her deeply-held belief

that rural children, wherever they live in the

world, are often denied opportunities taken

for granted by urban children, but are,

nonetheless, as deserving.’

Lyn offered to raise funds back in her home town of Toowoomba for any project that

the village nominated, be it for water, housing, health or transport. The elders

emphasised the importance of education and how it can change lives, leading to hope

of a better future and improved health. There and then Lyn decided to raise funds to

build a school.

In 2010, there were 850 students, six teachers - all from the village, four classrooms

and a toilet block. Today there are nearly 2000 students from 33 villages, nine

classrooms, 23 staff, a library, office, art centre, kitchen, Early Learning Centre, staff

room, two toilet blocks, a dental clinic, computer centre and three cottages for

volunteers. It is a Community Education Centre built and staffed by the villagers and

sustained totally by generous benefactors and donations from Australia.

Carolyn met Lyn in 2010 when she joined the team to help develop the English

Language Programme at the school and to advise and support the volunteers. It was

only later that they discovered they had attended Ruyton.

Lyn says that the experience of developing the Singing Kites project has taught her

many things.

‘By overcoming great challenges we can come to know our doubts, fears,

excuses and limitations and realise that, as a western visitor (to other countries), our way

of doing things is not the only way … The best way to find out about yourself is to give

freely of yourself to others. It’s easy to make a difference and become significant in

people’s lives by giving our time, our knowledge, our love and support to our fellow

human beings. It is what makes life meaningful.’

Lyn believes her values were shaped at Ruyton. She credits the School with

encouraging and supporting her in her early days. She treasures the contribution made

by Carolyn to the project and, above all, the firm friendship the two have made.

As Carolyn concludes,

‘Lyn and I travel to the school regularly and often laugh about our

Ruyton connection: if things go well, we say it’s because we’re Ruyton girls and know

how to get things done. If things don’t go quite so well, we say it’s because the rest of

the world didn’t go to Ruyton and more’s the pity!’

No

‘lazy shirker’

Penne Ebbage, who is no longer working at Ruyton in a full-time capacity, began

working here in a short term part-time capacity in 2000, ready for some new

challenges. Her connection to Ruyton is deep. She is a past student, a life-member of

the ORA, a teacher and a parent. Penne has taught a wide range of Art classes,

including textiles, drawing and photography. She has had a huge impact on the Art

Department. She developed new curriculum in many areas, particularly in garment

construction and photography, and has been meticulous in completing

documentation for other teachers to use. Penne was Acting Head of Art and many

weeks of her holidays at this time were spent whipping the Art rooms into shape,

sifting through accumulated detritus, resurfacing benches, replacing worn-out

equipment and finding some old treasures, including a vintage clay-cleaning machine!

Penne has also been the Co-ordinator of the Learning Enrichment Achievement

Programme (LEAP.) She redeveloped the curriculum and facilitated some new aspects

of the course, particularly the cooking programme at Year 8 and made valuable

connections with Fairshare.

Penne is known for her hard work and she has actively supported the co-curricular

programme at Ruyton, assisting with the Performing Arts House Festival (PAHF) and

the Art Society. She has also been on several Central Australian Tours and

accompanied me on the reconnaissance Overland Track expedition. Almost every year

Penne has generously supported the visiting students from Alice Springs as a host

mother – particularly appreciated as she is known as a ‘domestic goddess’!

Definitely no

‘lazy shirker’,

Penne is

Recte et Fideliter –

the embodiment of upright

and faithful.

Ms Julie Hoskins,

Special Programmes Co-ordinator

Farewell to a Valued Member of Staff

Miss Suzanne Jones worked in the Accounts

Department at Ruyton from October 2000 to April

2015. In her time here Suzanne displayed a strong work

ethic and deep commitment to the School. She joined

Ruyton from the corporate world intending to ‘give it

a go’ for a few years and ended up staying 15! Suzanne

was able to offer expert advice on all things financial

and was always willing to share her workplace

experiences with her colleagues. Aside from her work

in accounts, Suzanne also supported the girls by

attending events such as the contemporary music concert and other musical

performances. Suzanne has a dry sense of humour and many staff members

enjoyed exchanging quick-witted banter and amusing stories with her. However,

Suzanne’s passion for animal welfare, in particular her love of cats, is possibly the

only thing stronger than her love of Ruyton. Suzanne was a valued member of

staff and will be missed by her contemporaries. We wish her well as she enjoys

her retirement in Drouin.

Mrs Elizabeth Beattie,

Development Co-ordinator, Communications