Where are they now – Frank Rice (SPC 1954-64, former staff)
June 16, 2020
The College recently reconnected with Old Collegian and former staff member Frank Rice (SPC 1954-64), who has had a long association with SPC. Frank was a student for 11 years and taught at SPC for 30 years. His father attended in the 1920s, his mum was president of the mothers’ group, his three sons are Old Boys of the College as well as a numerous relatives.
Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?
I didn’t really leave schooling until a few years ago, after beginning in 1953, when I started at Loreto, Dawson St. I started at St Patrick’s College in 1954.
After SPC, a short visit to university, then back to SPC for most of the next 30 years. Initially, I was a lab assistant at St Patrick’s new science rooms built to replace the existing 50-year-old rooms, with some teaching of Year 9 Science.
Carmel and I were married in 1971 and lived in Junction St while we raised Corinna, Paul, Michael, Eamon and Luke. Corinna attended Loreto College, Luke, St Patrick’s Primary and the three middle members all enjoyed secondary schooling at SPC. Carmel was involved in the tuck-shop.
Br John O’Halloran employed me as Deputy Principal at St Patrick’s College, Launceston, and after that I moved along the Tasmanian coast where I was Principal of St Brendan-Shaw College in Devonport for 10 years.
I returned to the Melbourne Catholic Education Office as a Secondary Principal Consultant working with the Colleges of the Northern region of Melbourne, until my retirement.
Since then, we have enjoyed travelling around Australia in our own van, and also over the equator yearly (Paul lives in Montreal).
Our family has now five grandchildren who are lighting up our lives in Melbourne, Ballarat and Montreal.
Being a volunteer in St Vincent de Paul, on Edmund Rice Services’ Mt Atkinson Board (Br Bill Wilding is chair), helping in schools with MercyConnect Rotary, enables an ongoing participation in community life.
What are your fondest memories of your time as a student at St Patrick’s College?
An overall sense of happiness was present in the school students, and I looked forward to going to school daily. There were many individual times over 11 years when you enjoyed something special: a pie from the tuckshop, a war cry in the grandstand, a wintry footy game at Grammar (and the bicycle ride home after), being in Br O’Malley’s Inter A class when John James won the Brownlow.
My Leaving (Year 11) year had a great array of teachers, and I enjoyed learning from Br Cummins (Physics), Br Nangle (English with Macbeth) and Br Kelty (Latin). Not only was their direct teaching exciting and challenging us to respond, they also had some many stories of life they would insert from time to time.
What are your fondest memories as a staff member?
Small numbers of “lay staff” gave way over the years as the Christian Brothers teachers lessened. Peter Farley was the constant and became a life friend as we shared so many experiences. Br Moore was a great Deputy, John Cosgriff a leading Maths Co-ordinator, and people like Paul Andrews and Juri Kaczkowski were good people for the College.
My overall big memory is the effort that went in to restructuring Maths classes in Years 9 and 10. Great for teachers, and I think great for students, although it may not have been of obvious change for them. I remember well “The Cain-Lacey” method of solving a problem which always worked, without anyone really knowing why! This enabled me to free up my notions of who had the answer in a classroom.
I enjoyed students in and out and class, and still enjoy listening to their stories.
Which teacher from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
Br Kevin Tuck taught me in Second Year Blue, was a Deputy Principal when I was teaching, and we saw him often after that time. As a student he had a great influence on me. His Saturday morning Scholarships classes ensured I did receive a Junior Government scholarship, ensuring I could stay through the secondary years. His genuine friendly manner made it easy to learn and work. He was seen as a busy man, running cadets, rowing, football amongst other teaching and boarding duties. He had that special ability to know each person and always was interested in your family. I discovered later in my life his great love of fishing.
What were your various roles and responsibilities during your time working at SPC?
Teaching was mainly in Religious Education, Mathematics and Science, mainly in the middle years, although I taught from Year 7 to Year 12. Early years saw some forays into Literature and Physical Education.
I was a Year Level co-ordinator and also had a role as Senior Administrator.
Tennis, badminton and football (one year with soccer) saw my enjoying being with boys having a good time with their sports.
What do you think the boys would remember most about you?
Someone with whom they could share their learning. Hopefully, they recall fun times, if not the order of planets. From time to time particular groups of students suggested ways of improving what was happening. The most successful responses involved joint efforts.
Where was your favourite place in the college?
In the early years, the handball courts were used every break. The eternal games of “jerks” keep us all enjoying our free times.
“The Hill” was a place of some mystery for a young boy. It wasn’t spooky, but it seemed to have some sanctuary properties, and it had a reputation as a smoking venue, so the ordinary student avoided it during the day. After school hours, it was a good place to wander up and down. Damp days in cadets could gain some protection with the canopy of the trees providing a shelter.
What was your favourite college event?
Speech Nights and the preparation and anticipation for all big events brought some excitement.
I also remember the football tipping which ran for a few years. Low cost entry, small prizes in the VFL games helped buy mowing equipment for SPC. It meant every Friday and Monday brought a sense of excitement.
How has your education shaped my professional life?
From the first classes, I reflected on what my own teachers had practised. I was able to “enjoy” minor misdemeanours of students as I recalled my own involvement in similar activities in the past.
Although the teacher was in sole charge of the room, I was aware of great support from the other professionals on staff.
My experience as a Principal was highly coloured by my recall of so many good leaders I had at SPC.
How did your education influence personal values and family life?
In my schooling years there was an almost complete synchronicity with family, Church and school. I believe this has encouraged myself and my family practising Christian values.
The teaching years brought some sad times with student illness, but subsequent revelations about students being abuse victims has brought a deep sadness. I can only hope the times we shared together were times of good learning, respectful and enjoyable.
Changes in the world and Church have meant that one needs to reflect and make adult decisions, not just blindly. So, I am extremely happy to have my own family making their decisions as to how they live their life. Further, we are always involved with their activities.
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
- John’s Gospel (10:10) records Jesus inviting us to live life to the full.
- Plan for what you hope, and be ready to enjoy the unexpected.
- Accept these times and enjoy any adjustments you make.
- Share your good news with others