Ida Standley arrived in Alice Springs from South Australia in 1914 after being a governess and teacher at various
properties and schools across the state.|
She came from the railhead at Oodnadatta by horse and buggy driven by a policeman, Sonny Kunoth, who later took on Utopia Station with his brother 'Trot' and his wife Amelia.
The first school room in Alice Springs was a small building behind the police station in Parsons St, and she taught here and lived at 'Myrtle Villa', in Wills Terrace, where the imposing palm tree remains at the corner of Hartley St.
Her original appointment was to teach only the children of European families, but she enlarged her agenda to include part aboriginal children for whom she allocated a special afternoon class.
Her scope was broad and in addition to the basic reading, writing and arithmetic, she acquired a piano and taught music, singing, manners and deportment, and encouraged sport and activities.
Her warm interest in part aboriginal children led to her appointment as matron of 'The Bungalow', in Parsons St, a corrugated iron shed where the aboriginal children stayed. Her agenda at this time was european classes in the morning, aboriginal classes in the afternoon, and supervising 'The Bungalow' of a night, tasks which occupied 7 full days a week.
Her devotion to her job was legendary and she earned the respect of all.
In 1928 she moved to Jay Creek, west of town near the Chasm which was named in her honour and became matron and teacher to the aboriginal children at the settlement there, living in a tent in harsh conditions. She remained for a year and health problems forced her retirement to Adelaide where she received an M.B.E. in 1929 for her achievements in child welfare.
She died in 1948. She is remembered in Alice Springs in the naming of the Chasm, Standley Crescent, Ida St, the Ida Standley Pre-School, and the hearts of the surviving members of those early classrooms.
|© Copyright Peter W. Wilkins|