By Tina Seirlis
The upcoming end of an era celebration at St Brendan’s Dunnstown is sure to resonate with many families across the rural community.
Jo Dash, OAM is the current school librarian, having taken up the role over 30 years ago. However, her relationship with the school well-preceded her employment. Born in Dunnstown and raised on the family farm as the second-youngest of eight children from the Lenaghan family, Ms Dash attended the school as a student, back when it was Our Lady of Fatima.
Some of her fondest memories include running at the sports days (previously called the Bungaree & District School Sports), along with getting into trouble from the nuns for running out and playing footy with the boys, which wasn’t allowed at the time.
The family has maintained a strong connection with the school across four generations. Her father, his siblings and one of her mother’s sisters, were also previous students, then followed by Ms Dash and her seven siblings. Her three children and now grandchildren followed, two still there in the school’s final year.
“I was the Branch Librarian at Ballarat Library and took time off to raise a family. When my son was two, I volunteered to set up the school library, and was later offered a part-time paid position on staff,” Ms Dash told the Moorabool News.
“This was in the late 80s early 90s and I stayed on as a part-time staff member. My husband and I were over time involved with the Parents & Friends Council. We were always very involved at the school when we had children there,” she said.
Ms Dash says it has been lovely to contribute to the school that her children and grandchildren have attended, along with many children from around the district.
“In a farming district, people are always connected somewhere. I’ve enjoyed that sense of belonging.”
Ms Dash said she is looking forward to catching up with people and mutually sharing stories.
Following on from the school’s closure, Ms Dash, who received an OAM in 1997 for Service to the Sport of Netball, will be retiring from education, and intends to remain busy with many commitments including her role as Vice President of Ballarat Netball Association, spending time with her eight grandchildren, and tending to a big home garden.