Peter’s sterling service honoured

Michelle Slater

A Traralgon Secondary College teacher has been recognised for a whopping 45 years of service to the Victorian education department.

Peter Larsen has also celebrated a staggering 40 years of teaching at the same school and estimates he has since taught thousands of students.

“I sometimes walk past someone in the street who says ‘hi Mr Larsen, remember me?’ I’ve taught generations of families, it gives me a rapport and connection with these kids,” Mr Larsen said.

“It’s amazing how similar kids are to their parents or even a couple of grandparents I’ve taught.”

Mr Larsen said the former Traralgon high was a “tough school” when he first took up the post, with “challenging kids” in classes pushing towards 40 students.

He said Loy Yang was being built and housing was hard to come by, and there were many student families living in caravan parks.

“My first year 10 was an eye-opener and I can probably still name some of them, they made such an impression on me. One kid I taught is now a senior teacher at Traralgon,” he said.

“There are not many kids I’ve not been able to work with, my philosophy is to get to know the kids and show an interest in them. They will see you genuinely care about them and will work with you.”

Mr Larsen has taught a range of subjects from English, literature, legal studies and drama, and owes his longevity in his ability to embrace change – the latest including learning from home.

He said he had seen “immense” changes in the game in the past four decades, with increased demands on teachers and higher professional standards.

“I think for whatever reason, teaching is not a high status job and I’ve never understood why,” he said.

“I think teachers should be more valued than they are. What will change a person’s life more than education?”

But he said the extra-curricular activities had been his career highlights, including working with students on school camps, directing musicals, or coaching the cricket and footy teams.

Mr Larsen said he hopes to stick at it until his 50th anniversary, stating he would keep going for as long as he kept enjoying it.

“I’ve never taken long service leave, I’ve never felt the need. It’s been a privilege to work for this long as I have with so many staff, kids and families as a part of a strong community,” he said.

The state government will send Mr Larsen a personalised certificate of recognition and a commemorative booklet, despite being unable to hold a ceremony due to pandemic restrictions.

Minister for Education James Merlino congratulated all the 342 staff across the state being honoured for more than 40 years of service each to Victorian education.

“These teachers and school staff members have given so many years to delivering fantastic education to Victorian students,

“And I know all Victorians are with me when we thank them for their decades of dedication.”