Congratulations to Danny Moore (SPC 1983-84)
author: Lorrie Liston
We catch up with one of the College’s long-standing staff members, current teacher and Old Collegian Danny Moore (SPC 1983-84), who was recently recognised by the Catholic Education Office with an award for 30-years of service to education. Well done Danny!
Danny, tell us about your time as a student at SPC.
My initial memory of St Patrick’s was of its physical size. I came into Form 5 from St Paul’s Technical School which had a playing yard not much bigger than two basketball courts so I enjoyed the physical space of St Patrick’s and the sense of anonymity that came with it. The school population was also much bigger and more diverse than that of St Paul’s. The boarders represented a significant proportion of this population and included students from all parts of the country and overseas. I remember having my enrolment interview with Br Wilding in his office. During the interview, Br Wilding leant forward and peered over his desk to assess the state of my shoes.
Memorable teachers included the formidable Br Miller. Br Miller taught large classes in a very small room in the upper level of the O’Malley Wing. The walls of this room were lined with carpet in an attempt to prevent the sound energy from Br Miller’s teaching carrying into the adjoining room. I’m not sure that it was very effective. Br Miller began every class with a quiz and for each question you got incorrect, you would have to write out the correct formula or solution process 20 times that night. Br Miller also had an extraordinary ability to get more teaching time than my other teachers. If your class was timetabled after recess or lunch it was expected that you would be settled and working ten minutes prior to the bell sounding. He was renowned for his colourful sayings, usually directed towards a poor student who wasn’t following the logic of his teaching. The worst I copped was “You’re a ruddy dingo.” Class participation was compulsory. Every student was expected, in turn, to respond to Br Miller’s prompt – “Next!” This kept the room alive with a keen sense of anticipation – some would suggest dread – and you were constantly counting the number of respondents buffering you and your next turn in the hot seat.
I very much appreciated those teachers who had gentler teaching methodologies including Br Peter Dowling, Mrs Anne Scott, and Mr Doug Clarke but 35 years later it is certainly the memories of Br Miller and his unique style of teaching that have stayed with me.
What did you do after leaving SPC and when did you return?
After finishing as a student at SPC I did my degree and teaching diploma. My first teaching role was six years at Sacred Heart College Ballarat East which one of the foundation schools of Damascus College. I then taught at Damascus for a further three years. While teaching at Damascus, I attended the 1996 beatification of Edmund Rice in Rome. It was in the Leonardo Da Vinci airport that I ran into Br Laurie Collins who suggested I give thought to joining the staff of St Patrick’s which I did two years later in 1998. In the first few years there were still quite a few of the teachers on staff from my days as a student including Br Miller, Nerella McDonald, Kelvin Porter, John Cosgriff, Malcolm Barrins and Paul Andrews. In the 20 years since only Juri Kaczkowski remains.
In 2005 the Christian Brothers asked me to work with them in a networking role which I did on secondment for a number of years. During this time, I began to appreciate the significant shift the Brothers had made in understanding their role and purpose. I enjoyed reconnecting with my Headmaster, Bill Wilding and other teachers including Peter Dowling, Barry Donahue and Shane Wood and I also developed a deeper appreciation of the Edmund Rice charism. For some time, I had a role in connecting St Patrick’s to the broader Edmund Rice Network.
What have your various roles and responsibilities during your time at SPC as a staff member?
My main areas of teaching have been Mathematics and Religious Education. I became a teacher because I wanted to work closely with students so I am happiest when I’m left to work in the classroom. I edited the College Annual and newsletter for a few years and have enjoyed working with the various justice groups over the years. The first justice group initiated contact with the Edmund Rice Centre at St Albans back in 2002 and our students still continue to assist with the tutoring of young people from a refugee background, so I like to think we made an impact.
How has education shaped your life?
Most of my siblings and their partners are teachers so education has been a clear theme in my family context. I completed my MA in theology a few years ago and it was a classic case of me coming to the realisation that I really I didn’t know much at all. Education should work to expand one’s thinking, not close it off, so today I try to ask the important questions rather than seek to provide the answers.
What is your favourite College event?
I enjoy those events where you get to interact with the students outside the classroom environment. The nature and tenor of our end-of-year leave-taking events tend to give students permission to speak from the heart, so I hold some very precious memories of conversations from the valedictory dinners I’ve attended.
The annual social justice assembly also holds a special place in my experience. It has always been a great opportunity to creatively challenge the conventional wisdom of our time and I’ve had some great fun working with the boys to do this. To celebrate the 250th birthday of Edmund Rice in 2012, Year 12 student Kane Hart dressed as the statue of Edmund and stood on the dais for the duration of the assembly, before ‘coming alive’ to the students and staff as they sang happy birthday. As the students exited the assembly they were served a piece of chocolate cake.
What does the 30-year service award from the Catholic Education Office mean to you?
Anyone who knows me will know I’m not a great one for being the centre of attention but the acknowledgement of 30 years in Catholic Education did prompt me to reflect back over the places I’ve worked at, the people I’ve come to know and the many unique opportunities I’ve had to grow in my own wisdom and understanding as a person. The one thing that struck me was that most of my closest friendships have evolved out of my experiences in Catholic Education. The teachers I’ve worked with are at all ages and stages of life, my oldest past students are in their mid-forties and the youngest are turning 19, so I’ve got great friends from all generations. I keep in contact with many of them and have had the great privilege of being invited to be part of their lives beyond the time we spent together at school.
What do you think the boys remember most about you?
I hope they remember that I tried to know and value them above and beyond their abilities in the classroom. This isn’t always an easy thing to do and I haven’t always done it well, but I would hope I have succeeded in many cases. They probably remember my hand gesticulations and the way I mangle metaphors when I’m annoyed. The first generation of my students will certainly remember my ’82 Suzuki Hatch. One day, in a spirited response to their retreat day, my Year 9 Homeroom students (including the future College Captain Cameron Brown) thought they would pick up my car and shift it to another, less accessible, car park. They were caught in the act by the ubiquitous Br Zoch, who promptly reported it to the Headmaster, Br Collins. I then had to go to Br Collins and plead for a lesser sentence on their behalf.
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
There are many messages I hope to pass on to the boys but given I have a great interest in their spiritual development, I would encourage our boys to pay attention to their spiritual selves in the same way they would pay attention to their physical and intellectual selves. Spirituality is all about connection. So I would tell them to work on developing a deep sense of self, a compassionate sense of other, and through these, an awe-filled sense of the great mystery that lies at the heart of our amazing Universe.