CULTURAL WORKER MARIA PENCA nee GAJŠEK
Marija joined Draga Gelt and Magda Pišotek at the Slovenian school of Slovenian Association Melbourne in 1984, helping with children in the classroom and with cultural programs.
She directed a few short childrens plays and organised some poetry. as well as helped with the costumes and stage props.
Maria told us:
“At the beginning, all teaching hours (twice monthly) involved teaching songs to instil motivation and enthusiasm and also with repetition, so that they would be committed to memory. It was observed that with children, songs assist in faster learning. I remember one mother saying,
‘I didn’t know and I didn’t expect that my child would be able to read or take part in everyday spoken Slovenian, but I am very glad to hear my child singing songs from your school.’
From all the years of teaching in the Slovenian school, I have lasting memories of working with children as being an interesting and very rewarding experience, especially watching their performances on stage in front of their parents. It is important that not only the children are happy but also that their parents and the community are proud.
My view of Slovenian schools in Australia is that children are offered the opportunity in their early years, whether through word, song or dance.
Of course, not everything that the children learn at our schools will remain in their heads.
But the memory of their childhood years at Slovenian school and their appearances in various performances which made them aware of their Slovenian parents will live on.”
From the book Chronicle of Slovenian schools and Slovenian Language Teachers in Australia by Draga Gelt
Maria has also participated with Draga Gelt and Magda Pišotek preparing the Slovenian Language Manuals Učimo se slovensko – Let’s Learn Slovenian Parts 1, 2 and 3.