40 years of success for Mr John Melville

NAROOMA High School deputy principal John Melville celebrated his 40 years of teaching recently.

We conducted an interview with him to hear about the highs and lows of his four-decade-long career. 

After asking if he enjoyed teaching, we were handed the answer of, “Yes, otherwise I still wouldn’t be teaching. I love it.”

While also saying later on, “[I have a] passion for working with people, and trying to make a difference.”

When asked about when he became a teacher, his response was, “It was totally different from what it is now, you didn’t have much support and you were basically just thrown in there and made to look after yourself.”

He told us a story of how he was decontaminated from suspected anthrax outside his school in Sydney in 1998.

He had received an envelope that much to his surprise was filled with a white powder that could have been deadly anthrax.

At this time, white powder meant to be anthrax was used to scare people and create panic by would-be terrorists and hoaxers.

He and the janitor working at the school were made to strip down to their underwear in front of the whole school and be hosed down with large hoses, according to Mr Melville.

Thankfully the white powder turned out to be a hoax and all ended well.

Narooma, however, was not where he first started teaching.

He taught in many schools in and around Sydney and Wollongong and then finally settled down in the Narooma area where he eventually became deputy principal of the local Narooma High School.

When living up in Sydney, he was very involved in refereeing for local and first grade rugby league games.

His involvement with the then Australian Rugby League gained him the Australian Sports Medal in 2000, which was presented to him by the then Prime Minister John Howard and Governor General.

Prior to teaching, he worked in the Department of Defence and was offered a scholarship to study commerce at university.

After declining the offer, he was then awarded a scholarship to study teaching at university.

He then became a maths teacher, teaching in schools up and down the coast of New South Wales.

According to Mr Melville, one of his fondest memories of living in the area was when he was teaching at the Narooma high school when it was the central school up where the primary school is today.

Famous Australian actor Paul Hogan was down in the area filming a television ad down on the golf course.

The advertisement involved him hitting a ball over the gap that would land in the green.

However, the ball went into the water, so Mr Hogan went out to sea on a little row boat, collected the ball and hit it onto the green.

The whole school had gone out to watch and cheer on the star as he made his way back to shore.

Another career highlight for Mr Melville was teaching Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe at East Hills Boys’ High.

He often went to Thorpe’s home in Milperra to tutor him in maths to help him receive his school certificate while he was absent competing.

Finally, we asked him how much longer he was planning to stay deputy principal before retiring.

He told us that he plans to stay a little bit longer because his granddaughter Elli starts high school next year and he wishes to be there for her first few years.

We wish the best for Mr Melville with his career as a teacher and deputy principal. 

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