Modern Molly


She wasn’t just a teacher, but an actress too, starring in various plays, TV ads and even a short film.

Molly Worsnop grew up as an only child in the small country town of Shackleton, about 200km east of Perth, in a one-teacher school where she was taught by her mother.

She was 12 years old when she moved to Perth and began her teaching career at just 18 years of age.

“For the interview at teacher training college they asked me why I wanted to be a teacher. I replied: ‘Because they get lots of holidays’. It was a big incentive, but I was very naive back then, I was only 17,” Molly said.

After completing one year at teacher training college during the war, she then worked as a monitor at Greenmount School and joined the SSTUWA.

In the coming years Molly moved to Sydney to teach and went on to marry and have two daughters.

“I voluntarily resigned at this point. It was just during or after the war that there was a shortage of teachers and I remember more or less that I had to be reinstated but I never did, I got married instead,” she said.

It wasn’t until her children reached school age that she returned to work full-time.

“I taught most of my life, in the country in my early days, then at Nedlands and Dalkeith primary schools,” Molly said.

“I was what you called a teacher on supply (also known as relief) and taught Year 2 students. I was on supply for quite a few years, but didn’t get permanency. I also taught in England for a year on an exchange program, too.”

For the last eight years of her career Molly taught drama.

“I was a drama advisor. I was attached to the curriculum branch and travelled to various schools and taught drama and ran advisory working classes and workshops for teachers. It was a time when there wasn’t much professional development for teachers back then,” she said.

Molly loved teaching and acting in plays.

“I’ve been in plays all my life really,” she recalls.

“I was about 12 when I was selected for my first play. I went to a convent school and I learnt from the speech teacher who visited the school and she chose me to be in a play. I sort of had a talent for it and I went on to be one of her star pupils.”

Later in life she worked at the Patch and Playhouse theatres, acting in plays including A Street Car Named Desire and The Physicist.

At the age of 60 Molly’s TV career took flight. Since then she’s starred in television advertisements for the Silver Chain, REIWA and Dome cafes.

Molly narrated a short film, which won an award for best short film at the Perth Film Festival, and now in her retirement years she produces plays at the Beaumont Retirement Village.

Molly has spent her life inspiring the young and old – from her past students who went on to have professional acting careers, to her fellow RTA members, who are in awe of her life’s work and active lifestyle, and today’s teaching generation – from where their careers may take them, to the challenges they may face.

By all accounts teaching is much harder today, says Molly.

“Teachers are insecure because they’re always on contract. I was lucky as I never doubted getting an appointment at a school and generally parents had more respect for teachers and children were more obedient,” she said.

“But lots of good things happen because of a strong union.”

By Kirsty Henderson

This article was originally published in the SSTUWA Journal “Western Teacher’.