Mount Gambier’s Pauline Kenny has been recognised with an Order of Australia Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her service to primary education.
Mrs Kenny has always had a strong focus on children starting with coaching and umpiring netball at a primary school at the age of 16.
Mrs Kenny started her education journey as a young working mother by delivering religious classes at Stradbroke Park School in Adelaide.
When her eldest daughter started school she became a member of the St Joseph’s Primary School Mother’s Group in Hectorville and a founder of its school sports committee.
Mrs Kenny continued coaching netball and tennis and football. The boys did not have a football team at the time, so she applied to Norwood Football Club for a set of guernseys.
“These were delivered but we lacked a coach, so I coached the boys for their first year,” she said.
She volunteered in classrooms at St Joseph’s Primary School and became a teacher’s aid.
“It was not called voluntary in those days, you just did it because you were a mum,” Mrs Kenny said.
Mrs Kenny achieved registration in 1976, teaching until she became principal at St Joseph’s Memorial School at Norwood in 1986.
She was then a principal at St John The Baptist Catholic School for 10 years before moving to Mount Gambier in 1997 to take a principal role at St Paul’s Primary School for three years.
Mrs Kenny was an integral part of St Paul’s merger with Tenison Woods College and went on to relief teach at the education facility as well as Tenison Woods College, St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School (Millicent), Our Lady of the Pines (Nangwarry) and Mary MacKillop Memorial School (Penola).
She also co-founded the Sunset Community Kitchen where has volunteered for over 10 years and continues to do so to this day.
She was awarded with the Citizen of the Year in 2015 and the Tenison’s Woods College Shining Light Award in 2017.
Mrs Kenny said she was humbled and honoured to accept the Order of Australia medal.
“I feel the award is more about all the people who have encouraged me to take up teaching and then encouraged me in the direction of becoming a principal,” she said.
“Teachers, parents and students have given me a very happy life and I would also like to thank the wonderful people I have worked with in various organisations.
“Thanks to the community of South East for their acceptance of me since coming here in 1997 and finally a thank you to my husband Kevin and especially my wonderful family who have not only supported me but always been there for me.
“I am grateful for everyone especially Josephite Nuns.
“I believe I was able to do all these things because of the beautiful people that were around me and I think this is about honouring them.”