TRIBUTES are flowing for one of Wagga’s long-serving and most passionate educators, Maurice Beatton.
Mr Beatton died last week, aged 92, after a long life dedicated to serving others, particularly at Wagga High, where he was principal for 18 years.
“Maurie” – as he was known to those closest to him – is being remembered as a man who counted every student as family.
A man who taught thousands of Wagga students, but also nurtured the careers of fresh-faced teachers. A man whose belief in public education was almost as big as his belief in a child’s potential. And a man who backed up words with action.
In 1970, he gave another Wagga High institution, Jock Currie, his first teaching job.
But therein lied a problem. While Mr Currie wanted to be a maths teacher, the school only had places available for science teachers.
“Maurie changed that,” he said. “What he did was shift all the timetabling around – which was not easy in the days without computers – to accommodate me in maths. I appreciated very much what he did for me.”
Mr Beatton believed in his school – and its image in the community. A popular man, but never afraid to instill discipline, teachers were surprised when he turned on them for declining dress standards.
“He was part of the old school,” Mr Currie said. “All the male teachers started to not wear ties and Maurie couldn’t stand it. He would say ‘oh Jock, not you too’. I’ll never forget that.”
On the flip side, former education department regional director, Lex Bittar, said Mr Beatton loved a laugh.
“He could tell a joke, and he could take a joke,” he said. “It was always good to be in his company … I never saw a day he wasn’t rattled or upset in his role.”
Fay Mowbray, the wife of former Wagga High deputy principal Gordon Mowbray, said Mr Beatton was also to be admired for his commitment to family and faith.
Mr Beatton’s funeral will be held at the North Belconnen Uniting Church, Canberra, at 11am on Wednesday.