I had the slightly surreal, but completely wonderful experience recently of doing a school visit to the school of my old prep and grade one teacher – Mrs Tullo.
Mrs Tullo was my first ever primary school teacher back in what I now call The Day. Back then Mrs Tullo ruled the classrooms of Watsonia Primary School. These days she teaches at Bundoora Primary School in Melbourne’s north-east, which is where I went to see her and talk to the school’s students about writing, being published and being a graduate of the school of Tullo.
As the Bundoora P.S. newsletter said when it was advertising my author talk, ‘His mother and Mrs Tullo always said he would write a book and he has.‘ In many ways Mrs Tullo was my first publisher and she recalled to the Bundoora students some of my earlier stories including this title about my then new baby sister.
Watsonia Kids was Mrs Tullo’s imprint and I sure was excited to be publishing stories with her in those early days. Especially since she was happy to publish risque and experimental stuff such as this page from My New Baby.
And despite Mrs Tullo insisting that I now call her by her given name of Marilyn, I couldn’t. You just can’t relearn information like that, when it has been absorbed during those formative years.
The students at Bundoora were also awesome and keen to hear my stories from the past about Mrs Tullo and my stories from now about my glamorous authorly life. I talked about how I come up with ideas and what to do when you get stuck. And the group of grades four, five and six and me did a small writing exercise and came up with a most delightful story called Bob the Rapping Vampire Bat, which would surely be worthy of being published as a Bundoora Kids book.
And here are the inevitable now and then photos of student and teacher.
Now: Me and Mrs Tullo at Bundoora Primary School, November 2010.
Then: My primary school graduation in 1994. Please disregard my ears and my bow tie.
Mrs Tullo was the first influential teacher I ever came across and it really was a joy to see her again, influencing the students of 2010 in all the right ways.