The prestigious Monsignor Coolahan Awards for excellence are presented to members of staff or to diocesan school communities. Sue received the Monsignor Coolahan Award for school support and further recognition for 25 years of service at St Patrick’s.
Family is clearly important to Sue, and a key contributor to her life and lifestyle. Her involvement in her father’s family cleaning business originally led to her employment at the primary school 26 years ago, with Sister Genevieve rsj, one of the school’s earliest principals. However, her involvement with the school began 32 years ago through her being an avid and involved canteen Mum and volunteer reader to support her daughter at the school. Becoming a part of the school staff was a natural transition, and she felt that the job picked her.
Now as school cleaner, groundswoman and gardener, Sue Hawke has a large responsibility that she celebrates and is grateful for every day.
She doesn’t see her job at St Pat’s as ‘work’. The 6am start every morning, and the long days that amount to at least 30 hours per week, are impressive, but they are not her focus. As a naturally crafty person, enthusiastically scrapbooking, knitting, sewing and gardening, Sue runs weekly gardening and craft clubs for the children, which reap their own rewards. She explained that seeing a child’s face light up due to a new bulb or plant root, is what helps make her job worth doing, and what it’s all about. She holds her colleagues in high esteem, recognising them as “more than just the people I work with”. She described her nomination for the Monsignor Coolahan Award as a truly great honour and a compliment from them; however, she believes that any one of the staff deserves the award, and that they make her job easy.
The school is very much part of her everyday life. Her appreciation of the students and staff of both St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s (where she once worked simultaneously, on different shifts) is what inspires her commitment and responsibility, and the feeling is clearly mutual, as she is greeted with smiles and nods of appreciation all round.