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Farewell Chalmer Sensei

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No one at St Anne’s on Friday was left in any doubt of the impact left by much-loved Japanese teacher Jan Chalmer who retired at the end of Term 3 after 40 years of dedicated service.

Mrs Chalmer was joined by friends and family as her youngest ELC students serenaded her with a Japanese ‘good morning’ song, the St Anne’s choir sang ‘For Good’ from Wicked and the orchestra played ‘Sakura’, a traditional Japanese folk song depicting spring, the season of cherry blossoms. Some of Mrs Chalmer’s former students also shared messages via video link, some of which were entirely in Japanese.

Following the Fellowship, students formed a guard of honour along the route from Lorna Sparrow Hall to the site of a new Japanese garden, which has been established in Mrs Chalmer’s name. A traditional high tea concluded the occasion.

Principal Michele Wakeham described the tribute as “the most amazing morning”.

“The feeling in the room was one of absolute adoration and appreciation,” Mrs Wakeham said. “Some of us were even brought to tears.”

Mrs Chalmer started teaching at Gippsland Grammar in 1983 and has since taught Japanese from ELC to Year 12 across all three current campuses, as well as at Birchwood House, a former Gippsland Grammar campus in Traralgon. At one time she even taught Japanese classes to parents!

“Over my 40 years I have always strived to implement the best methods of teaching Japanese and have continually sought new ideas and strategies to improve the learning outcomes of my students,” Mrs Chalmer said. “I will greatly miss teaching and the students at St Anne’s.”

When reflecting on her career, Mrs Chalmer also referred to the Japanese word ‘ikigai’.

“Ikigai is a wonderful Japanese word that refers to having a purpose in life,” Mrs Chalmer said. “This purpose is something that makes your life feel worthwhile and gives you satisfaction. For me, teaching Japanese has been my ikigai!”

Head of St Anne’s Jie Van Berkel said Mrs Chalmer has consistently raised the bar in language education.

“Jan has an unwavering commitment to her craft and has left an indelible mark on the St Anne's Campus community,” Mr Van Berkel said. “Jan's innovative approach has enriched her students' language skills and fostered a deep appreciation for Japanese culture. Her dedication to evolving teaching methods, embracing technology and inspiring her students is truly commendable and she is a shining example of excellence in language education.

“As Jan embarks on a well-deserved retirement, we extend our heartfelt gratitude and best wishes to a remarkable educator who has left an enduring legacy. May her retirement be as fulfilling and joyful as your teaching career!”

There’s certainly no doubt of the legacy Mrs Chalmer leaves behind. A recent Facebook post about her teaching Japanese to our ELC students attracted more than 20 comments including some from former students paying tribute to the much-loved teacher.

Old Scholar Kat Giles (nee Clyne, Class of 2003) commented: “Thank you for introducing me to Japanese. You started my language learning journey in Grade 5, you inspired me to become a teacher, mentored me in the beginning and continue to influence my teaching with your generosity in sharing your knowledge and ideas. Talk about being an influencer! Arigatougozaimasu (thank you)!”

Hear, hear!