A good woman… A woman with Integrity
I have had the privilege of teaching with Kris at Northland Secondary College since 1996. Design Studies is a course within the school that we taught in and she subsequently managed for some years. I came to the course headstrong and lacking in the finer art of diplomacy. She was dignified and insightful. I had a lot to learn and she had a lot to give. She was my mentor. As a staff, we were – and still are a close-knit bunch in Design Studies. Kris gave us so much, mentored us all and was a dear, dear friend.
Kris taught the same way she did everything in life – cooperatively, enthusiastically and with endless patience. Her students were treated to inspiring, exciting and ever changing job briefs and to an unwavering faith in them as young artists and designers. Kris never compromised her teaching, always giving her students’ undivided attention and respect. She leaves behind a legacy within art and design education. Her dedication and emotional intelligence assisted so many of these students in pursuing their career pathways.
Kris was an extraordinary leader who could put her hand to anything. Always the consummate professional, she lead by example in everything she did and as a result, we always wanted to do for her, we always wanted to step up and we always followed where she led. We are all better people for that – Certainly better professionals.
Respectfully and quietly assertive, Kris bought out the best in the staff at Northland. As a leader, when faced with seemingly insurmountable problems, she would calmly think laterally of a solution – or two - that considered everyone’s viewpoint. No one walked away from a meeting cross with Kris! She loved problem solving and as a time-tabler would come up with as many solutions as it took to cater for all parties. Kris established our staff association and convinced us to host weekly staff morning teas with the aim of bringing us together. I am sure that on every Thursday morning into the future, she will be in our thoughts as we snack and chat our way through the happy weekly event she had the vision to establish.
I think Kris could have been anything that she put her mind to. A mathematician, a scientist, a designer, a diplomat, a true renaissance woman… but perhaps teaching chose her, because she needed to give. Selflessly, she always put others needs before her own. When Kris first told me of her awful diagnosis, I blubbered and she consoled: “It’s okay Trace, it’s a bugger but that’s the hand I have been dealt”, she said and then she just got on with the job of living. In her usual calm style, she accepted with both dignity and grace that it was the way of all things.
Kris has shared a long and happy relationship with her husband Mark. “My Mark” as she always referred to him at work. They married at 20 and have proven, through their 36 years together, to be true soul-mates. In the time I have known them they have done everything side by side. Bringing up kids, travelling, fishing, shaping beautiful granddaughters and living. Their life journey has bound them together as have their actual travels. Mark made a rough estimate that they had driven well over 100,000 kilometres in a four-wheel drive with three children in tow… and they didn’t fight!
For Kris though, her real achievements in life were her children, Erin, Jacquie & David. Over morning coffees at work I heard you three grow up into the people you are now. Through teenage sagas, messy rooms, naughty moments, the VCE, engagements and marriages, children and careers, I heard you grow. Your mother deeply loved and adored each of you.
Your mother has shaped the trajectory of your lives. Her values run in your veins. Her insights. Her goodness. Her integrity. You now – and in fact we all now – have the opportunity to live the rest of our lives in ways that will bring honour to a woman who has spent her life showing us how to be our best… how to be good.
”I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge -- myth is more potent than history -- dreams are more powerful than facts -- hope always triumphs over experience -- laughter is the cure for grief -- love is stronger than death” - Robert Fulghum
Tracy Paterson, July 7th 2011