Ayr to a Moree lifestyle: Bethany Kelly wouldn’t have it any other way

ENVISAGING scenes straight out of Summer Bay and the iconic laid-back Aussie beach lifestyle, Scotswoman Bethany Kelly jumped when her strapping Australian rugby playing husband, Damien, suggest a move down under.

However, the long white sandy beaches of her dreams were promptly replaced by a dusty Moree plains reality, and while it may not have been the homecoming she imagined, today she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Bethany is one of the driving forces behind the success of Moree Secondary College, a teacher continually referenced by students, past and present, for her unwavering dedication and inspiration.

Bethany, Head of Teaching and Learning and relieving Deputy Principal, admits she always had an affinity for teaching.

“I always loved learning, both at school and at university where I studied politics,” Bethany said.

Moree Secondary College’s Head of Teaching and Learning and relieving Deputy Principal, Bethany Kelly.

“But, on my very first day of my very first prac I was absolutely sure that teaching was the career for me. I am passionate about the subjects I teach and nothing gives me greater pleasure than having students question the world in which they live and help them navigate the journey to adulthood.”

Past student Bernadette Quirk is just one of many students to recall Bethany going above and beyond to assist students.

“Mrs Kelly would often open the classrooms over school holidays or weekends just so we could have somewhere to go for exam revision or for help finishing assignments,” Bernadette said.

“Knowing how precious family time is and with a young family of her own we knew this was a huge sacrifice, and we were extremely grateful.

“Personally, I don’t think I could have achieved the success I did without her help,” Bernadette smiled.

Bethany is from Ayr. Not Ayr, Queensland she laughs, but that almost opposite climatic counterpart, Ayr, Scotland.

And Bethany’s accent across the school corridors is hard to mistake.

She laughs that despite her confusing accent and dry sense of humour baffling some, the staff at MSC are some of the friendliest, and the students some of the most inquisitive she’s taught.

“Staff is always willing to give new ideas a go, such as the Challenge Days this year, and have a genuine desire to help every child achieve their potential,” Bethany said.

And despite the fact Moree is not Summer Bay, Bethany is determined in her passion for quality education, and commitment to support and giving back to the Moree community.

“My husband is from Moree and we met in Scotland while he was living there playing rugby union,” she said.

“I actually came to Moree for the first time in 2003 on my honeymoon, believe it or not.”

With the birth of their first daughter Isabelle, the couple decided they’d prefer their children be raised in Australia – the close-knit community and more favourable climate of Moree was appealing.

“I had been teaching for eight years in Scotland prior to moving to Moree in June, 2011, but the welcoming MSC community certainly made the transition to teaching in Australia really easy,” Bethany said.

The couple has since welcomed Duncan and Edith into the family and Bethany is evidently as tireless within the community as she is within MSC.

Currently the committee president of Moree on a Plate Food and Wine Festival, one of the region’s premier community and tourist-generating events, Bethany has also volunteered to sit on the Relay for Life Committee.

“I love the opportunities there are in Moree and to be involved in community events and to positively contribute to the community,” she said.

However, she laughs, as a mother of three children, “like most of us, the majority of my free time is spent ferrying children between sport and other extra-curricular activities”.

 Bethany encourages Year 12 students to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way.

“Year 12 Bethany would never have considered that she would now be living and working in Moree, Australia,” she said.

“But, 38-year-old Bethany cannot think of a better life.”

Words and Image: Georgina Poole