In 2022, Art students at Beechboro Christian School are taught by Dianne Pearce.
The bright demountable classroom has students from various nationalities colourfully decorating designs while Christian music plays in the background. It’s a very happy place, and the young children file out of the classroom beaming with pride at their newly-created works of art – destined for the family fridge or the noticeboard at home.
Dianne began teaching at SCEA back in 1985, a whopping 37 years ago!
With seemingly endless amounts of energy and a smile that lights up the faces of the gathered Year 1 class, you would never imagine that this incredible teacher has taught two generations of SCEA students across five different SCEA schools since ‘taking a chance on Christian education’ all those years ago.
Mark and Dianne Pearce were young teachers who had successfully completed their rural stints in the small town of Mount Magnet (six hours north of Perth) when they returned to Perth and joined Como Uniting Church. In the early 1980’s, the church was a bustling, energetic hub for Christian young people. The young couple met a young man who was prepared to step away from government schooling and passionately follow a calling into Christian education: Mr Greg Wells.
“Greg was passionate and persuasive, and we really wrestled with the idea of this new school that was starting. There wasn’t much in the way of facilities, but it was a case of trusting God’s calling on our lives. A few friends asked us why we had not just looked to take a year’s leave from the Education Department to test this new SCEA experiment. But we took the plunge and resigned. We felt that we really needed to listen if this is God speaking,” says Dianne.
Kalamunda Christian School (KCS) had a handful of students and just two staff in 1984 (Greg Wells and Sally Hopper), so the addition of Dianne Pearce and another newcomer doubled the staff size overnight in January of 1985!
The Bickley campus for KCS was an abandoned shopping centre that was cold, dark and dusty – but Dianne remembers those early years fondly.
“Yes, it was a bit lacking in some facilities, but that never really seemed to matter too much. My memory is young families stepping out in faith, living their Christianity and a very rich and vibrant community feeling every day in that place.”
“I still believe today that the physical side of the school doesn’t matter. It’s all about the community, the parents, the significant Christian input that comes from having staff that truly care for each other and the children in their classes,” reflects Dianne.
Dianne stopped teaching to start a family and then returned in a reduced capacity to handle a few classes at Beechboro Christian School in the early 1990’s.
“I’ve always loved it here at Beechboro. It’s been an amazing school which grew under Murray Thomas for many, many years and had time to set its culture.”
Husband Mark was working at Swan Christian College in Physical Education and Art classes, so the opportunity to fellowship across SCEA events led to deep friendships with past and present staff.
“I was still young in my faith,” says Dianne, “but this was so exciting!”
“Those early teachers really knew their Bible. When we would have our social times in the staff room, I was inspired by the depth of faith, wisdom, and knowledge that these people had in the Word and their passion for Christian education. Their focus and devotion to the Bible was amazing. The kids knew it too. In the classroom, these teachers stood out as knowing the Word and really living it for themselves and their families.”
The family moved to Mundaring, and part-time work began in the new Mundaring Christian College under David Skipworth. Then the family set their course for Darwin and a calling to the top end of Australia.
Some years later, the call back to Perth came, and Dianne was sought for a teaching post at the new Swan Christian College: Junior Campus by Principal Valerie Campbell.
“Well, God really looked after me. I was incredibly lucky that people remembered me from the ‘old days’ and took me on again as a teacher. I really felt God provide for me, and then the three kids went through Swan. I taught in the Primary at Swan, and the kids were in the secondary.”
Eight further years at Swan, a move to Ellenbrook for five years and now six years at Beechboro (and counting!) have demonstrated that Dianne has energy, endurance and bundles of care for each student that walks into her classroom.
“That mission statement is the key for me. Reaching every child so that they knew God loves them is so important.”
Beechboro Christian School continues to grow its enrolments (tipping over 300 students earlier this year), and it draws its students from all corners of the globe.
“We strive to accommodate everyone here, and we absolutely accept every child – as we should. But we also need to know what we stand for as Christians, and we need to be solid in that,” says Dianne.
“A little girl came up to me today, and she was from Portugal. It is just such a cultural mix here.”
More than thirty years since Greg Wells convinced Dianne and her husband to ‘take a chance’ with Christian education, Dianne still marvels at what has been achieved by staff and administrators across the history of SCEA.
“I drive past Swan now and see the buildings and the offerings. I just think that those early people [SCEA Pioneers] would never have imagined the buildings and the future they had begun back then. The legacy of what those early families did is absolutely immense.”
What should a young student at Beechboro expect today from such an experienced and talented teacher like Dianne Pearce?
“It’s what we are in Christ that is important. Children can enjoy what we are offering them at Beechboro and other SCEA schools because we offer life, hope, encouragement and opportunity. The opportunity to see something in themselves, that hope that lies in all of us – that is our role as teachers, as Christian educators.”
Dianne Pearce with some eager Art students at Beechboro Christian School.