Vale Jan Gerard: Remembered as a great mentor and friend to many

RESPECT: Former Bathurst High principal Jan Gerard has been remembered as one of the region's great educators. Photo: SUPPLIED
RESPECT: Former Bathurst High principal Jan Gerard has been remembered as one of the region's great educators. Photo: SUPPLIED

ONE of Jan Gerard’s final wishes was to have her memorial service held at Bathurst High School, a school she loved and served so well.

Mrs Gerard, who was principal at Bathurst High from 1992-2005 and was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2007 for her service to education, died surrounded by her family on Monday after an illness.

Along with her husband John, Mrs Gerard was one of the most respected educators in the Bathurst region.

Mrs Gerard’s family said her final months were “filled with love, laughter, family and friends and more than a few tears”.

“Mum left an immense legacy. She was passionate about education and young people,” they said.

“She was absolutely committed to supporting the ability of every child to succeed and obtain a quality education.

“Mum was a pioneer in supporting women in education and for gender equality. She was one of the first female secondary school principals in NSW and worked hard to make schools a better place for kids.

“She inspired many students and generations of teachers.”

Her family also paid tribute to Mrs Gerard’s influence as a grandmother to Edith and Amelia, Seb and Zadie.

“She adored and was utterly devoted to them. She has left them with an unshakeable confidence that will influence their lives forever - that’s her Grandma magic,” they said.

“She was mum to Ian and Amy, Alison and Sophie, to whom she meant the world.

“She leaves behind her dedicated husband and partner in life - John. Jan and John celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary late last year.

“Theirs was a relationship built on mutual respect, trust, honesty, travel, family and good humour.”

Current Bathurst High principal Ken Barwick said he had known Mrs Gerard for most of his life and called her a “dedicated and compassionate educator”.

“John and Jan Gerard – along with the Stirlings [Jenny and Paul] formed one of the most formidable leadership partnerships across the Bathurst network of schools,” Mr Barwick said.

“They always had children as the core purpose of everything they did.”

Denison College of Secondary Education principal Craig Petersen, who also serves as the NSW Secondary Principals Council deputy president, said Mrs Gerard was awarded life membership of the SPC in 2001 .

“We’re deeply saddened at the loss, and her contribution to education at a local level and at a state level will be sorely missed,” he said.

The education area executive director Geoff Pellizzer and Bathurst network director Toni MacDonald also paid tribute to Mrs Gerard,

“News of the passing of Jan Gerard has been met with great sadness by the Department of Education and the public education community,” they said.

“Her contribution to the lives of thousands was immense influencing them directly through her years as a teacher and later as a school executive and her ultimate position as the long term principal of Bathurst High School.

“Jan’s inspiration spread further through her strong encouragement of emerging educators to become leaders.

“In the days when women did not always consider they could be leaders, Jan was a role model and a mentor devoting considerable energy to fostering confidence in women to take on roles in leadership in schools and elsewhere.

“Young people were almost her foremost motivation. Jan will be remembered fondly for her dedication to students’ learning, wellbeing and equipping students for improved life outcomes.”

The public has been invited to a memorial service to celebrate Mrs Gerard at Bathurst High from 10am-11am on Saturday.