From a young age Mary Nash knew she wanted to be a teacher.
Dr Nash’s first exposure to teaching stems back to her early childhood where she set up her own classroom in the backroom of her parent’s home in Blackburn, Melbourne.
“I remember being one of the only girls amongst all of the boys in the neighbourhood,” Dr Nash said.
“I taught them all spelling and mathematics on a blackboard my father made for me.
“My passion started at an early age, I always wanted to be a teacher and never anything else.”
Dr Nash’s dedication and determination has been recognised by the state government with an award which highlights her 45 years of service to education.
Over the course of her career, science has always been at the forefront of her teaching, with the main goal to engage students within science.
Dr Nash commenced a studentship in 1968 at Melbourne University, completing a science education degree with majors in genetics and zoology.
It was during this time that she met her husband Barry, who is also a teacher and upon graduation the pair moved to western Victoria to take up their first year as teachers at Horsham High School.
After 12 months at Horsham High School they moved to Bendigo, where Dr Nash commenced a role as a teacher at the then Bendigo Girls High School.
After a few years as a teacher in Bendigo she decided to take a break from teaching to focus on starting a family.
“In those days women normally resigned when they had children, I didn’t want to as I had undertaken a lot of hard work to get to where I was,” Dr Nash said.
After the birth of her four children and seven years later, Dr Nash was ready to return to work.
She upgraded her qualification to include mathematics and then accepted a position at Bendigo Senior Secondary College in 1991.
Throughout her career she also completed a Master’s degree, focusing on the role of the graphics calculator in teaching mathematics, and conducted research into teaching abstract biological concepts through models and representations.
Dr Nash is now the learning and engagement coordinator in science at BSSC and lectures in biology methods for education students at La Trobe University.
“I have always been focused on the way students learn and wanted to help improve their ability to, enquire and problem solve,” Dr Nash said.
“STEM subjects are important to engage students and get them interested in science, it helps them become curious about how the world around them works.
“The nation depends on scientists to research, innovate and find new discoveries for the future.”
For National Science Week she will hold sessions with primary school students to teach a basic understanding of science through a series of experiments.
Words: Anthony Pinda, Bendigo Advertiser Picture: Noni Hyett