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Levan, Sloan and Slater: Some of the most memorable QHS teachers from the 1990s

Levan, Sloan and Slater: Some of the most memorable QHS teachers from the 1990s

Teachers: love them or hate them, they have this uncanny way of leaving a lifelong impression on you.

The 1990s at Queanbeyan High School was a wild ride of Doc Martens, oversized folders, teased fringes and Stussy pants. The teachers’ fashions were just as questionable, but man they had a tough gig. I’ve compiled a list of some of the QHS teachers that had to put up with all of our teenage angst and definitely influenced who I became after graduation. 

James ‘Jim’ Martin


An icon of Queanbeyan High. Mr Martin was often seen walking the corridors of A Block, casual jeans and spray jacket, always looking mildly perplexed. In hindsight, he was probably just thinking about which Year 8 boy to put in the back row of his next footy match.

I got to know him as my Ancient History teacher for the HSC in Years 11 and 12, which would have been 1997 and 1998, great years to be a Queanbeyan High student. 

He would make us watch this God awful series on the Roman Empire that was made in the 1970s by the BBC, it put most of the class to sleep, but I guess it worked because I got pretty good grades.

He loved his annual History-themed night when the students and staff would dress up in bed sheets as Caesar, Nero or Agrippina.

Passionate as they come about his chosen subject, I remember he once told the class: “Think of history like this, the Roman Empire, it’s just like a soap opera, like Days of our Lives” and that’s exactly how my 16-year-old brain remembered who slept with who or who poisoned who, and probably how I came to get such good grades. 

A man’s man no doubt, a diehard NRL and cricket fan until the end of his life, he coached many high school teams and many famous names, leaving an impression on them that lasted their careers, and beyond. 


Pam Sloan 

“Bonjour la class!”

“Bonjour madam.”

Ms Sloan was one of those teachers that everyone has a memory of. Her enthusiasm for teaching languages and culture was palpable, and her expectations were just as fierce.

I remember in Year 7 once forgetting to do my French homework and she called me out on it, demanding to see the evidence in my homework diary. I ran to my locker to get my diary (that was immaculately covered in Drew Barrymore and Leonardo DiCaprio pics) and frantically found a pen, scribbling ‘French Homework’ in my 90’s bubble writing. I ran back down to H block visibly shaking, she and I both knew that I had ballsed it. But she let it slide. 

Her outfits were always so curated, I remember a specific pair of fur-lined heels boots she wore, long skirts, flowy blouses, dewy 1970s makeup and immaculate hair. Did she wear a wig? I don’t know, but that myth was the least interesting thing about her. 

I studied French in the HSC, mainly to avoid having to do Math. Sadly she became ill during this time, stoically persevering to get us through. She passed away shortly after we graduated and my classmates and I attended her funeral. I still have a letter that she wrote to me, and her animated stories about her trips to France have influenced all the pictures of Paris you’ll find hung in my home. And even though I bombed terribly in French and it brought my HSC mark down considerably, je ne regrettte rien! 

Brad Barker 

I can still hear his American accent, and picture him with armfuls of loose papers ready to return to students. He always seemed a little frazzled, writing quotes frantically across the whiteboard, but also still able to articulate himself so well.

He taught me about The Road Less Taken, Shakespeare and The Great Gatsby. He had this aura about him that you just wanted to please (nerd alert), maybe it was his quiet disappointment towards the students who refused to write more than a sentence in the 40-minute period. 

I always carefully read each of his scribbled notes next to my work, fervently searching for any feedback and hoping to God it was good. (Who remembers his distinctive handwriting?)

Acting out a monologue from the play Pygmalion, in the ‘Annex’ of the school library no less, while he took notes, was probably one of the most mortifying days of my life. I will happily write him a 3,000-word essay on the themes of Macbeth any day of the week, to never have to relive that again. 

I remember the twinkle in his eyes when he talked about his hippy days at Woodstock and seeing The Doors in concert, not fully appreciating how cool they were until much later in life. The nerd in me hopes that he still sometimes reads my words, and doesn’t have have too many edits in the margin. 

Carol Paterson 

Carol or “Patto” was the cool teacher, and not only because she would often be seen smoking in Surveyor Street. The home economics teacher was popular with students and they would joke and gossip with her at any opportunity, no doubt hoping to waste as much class time as possible.

She had a chilled unbothered vibe and seemed to relate to the students easily, she disliked the absolutely dull Food Tech textbook just as much as us we did. 

I remember Mrs Paterson being highly involved in the sports teams (I don’t know why because I was really shit at sports), taking us on the annual Tumut trips, you know the one, where you got billeted out to a family for what seemed an eternity, a truly terrifying and traumatic experience for a 14-year-old. 

I do have one bone to pick with Mrs Paterson however, I’ll never forgive her for the time she called me at home (because that was the only way to call anyone in the 1990s) and begged me to be on the regional relay swim team. The only reason I qualified was because I was the right age and gender, but how could I say no to a teacher, who called me at home?!

I then had to travel to some hick country town and compete without drowning. All I remember is a lot of water going up my nose, which I guess in hindsight was a lesson in resilience and contributed to my now unwavering ability to say no. 

Honourable mentions

Honourable mentions must also go to to Ms Seyfarth for her commitment to cardigans, stacks of bangles, overpowering perfume, and long hair whipping this way and that, she directed large groups of us to memorable Rock Eisteddfod performance. (I believe Ms Seyfarth has also passed away.)

Mr Crabb, our steadfast year advisor, who on graduation day made an epic speech that included all of our surnames.

Mr Slater, my roll call teacher, for his kindness in always allowing me to be late and to talk with my friends instead of reading during DEAR.

Lastly, Mr Levan (“Class, get out your gangulators”) and Ms South for trying so hard to teach a young girl who could barely count to do algebra.

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About the Author: Holly Winchester

Part Jennifer Coolidge, part Jennifer Garner (gaudy and geeky), Holly idolises Dolly Parton and Princess Di and loves NRL. When she's not creating killer content, you’ll find Holly at the Maccas drive thru getting her chai latte fix or buying 1990s memorabilia for the walls of her Googong home. Specialist subject: the Woolies carpark.