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Rosemary Hafner 1953-2008.

Education in Australia and the ASTA community lost an illustrious leader when Rosemary Hafner passed away on 21 January 2008 after a long struggle with cancer.


Rosemary's considerable contribution to education and particularly to science education began when, as a young teacher, her exceptional talent was recognised with her appointments as Science Coordinator at St Joseph's College (now Bethany College), Kogarah and at Brigidine College, Randwick, in New South Wales.

With the declaration of the Education Act 1990, the NSW Board of Studies was established, resulting in a significant reorganisation of education in NSW. Rosemary Hafner was appointed as the Board's first Inspector--Science. It was an inspired decision that furthered an already impressive educational career. Over the years that followed, Rosemary was to make important contributions to science education at both NSW and national level. Her capacity to tackle difficult jobs with great humour and determination was soon evident.

Rosemary's role included the management of the changes to dated syllabuses of the 80s and the introduction of new and relevant science courses into primary education. The resulting K-6 Science and Technology syllabus and support documents produced by Rosemary and her team were ground breaking in their direction, content and philosophy.

Rosemary's influence spread beyond NSW and into the international arena. She guided the development of primary science programs at schools in Indonesia and assisted in the correlation of the UK system of science education with that of NSW. This allowed some dual accreditation of students in the Asian region, particularly in Hong Kong. She developed a primary science curriculum for the United Arab Emirates and visited Papua New Guinea with AusAid to provide advice on school curriculum development.

Rosemary later took the work on developing syllabuses and standards in science education to a conference in Germany at the Leibniz-lnstitute for Science Education (IPN) at the University of Kiel in Germany. Her work at the symposium was recently published in Making it Comparable--Standards in Science Education.

Treatment for cancer slowed her temporarily.

In 2003 Rosemary was appointed Inspector--Registration and Accreditation. She provided extensive research for the NSW Board of Studies on the reshaping of non-governmental school registration and accreditation policies and processes. Rosemary was a regular presenter at both NSW and Australian science teachers conferences. Her presentations were well known for being stimulating, insightful and sometimes challenging.

Whilst maintaining a full workload, Rosemary steadily increased her volunteer hours with the Science Teachers Association of NSW and with the Australian Science Teachers Association. She was the Editor of the Australian Science Teachers Journal (ASTJ) from 2000 to 2003 and joint editor of Teaching Science in 2004. Rosemary was very dedicated to the ASTA journal and worked very hard to ensure that the transition from ASTJ to Teaching Science was as smooth as possible.

The ASTA National Professional Standards for Highly Accomplished Teachers of Science, published by ASTA in 2002, were heavily influenced by Rosemary's membership of the team that embarked on a study tour of the US National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in 2000. She made valuable use of this experience in her capacity as a member of the ASTA National Science Standards Committee in 2000 and 2001 and was instrumental in ensuring that the standards set were of the highest quality. Her belief in the value and quality of Australia's science teachers was evident throughout this process.

Rosemary went on to represent the Science Teachers Association of New South Wales (STANSW) with distinction as an ASTA Councillor on the national ASTA Council from 2004--2007. Her contributions were always made with a passion for science teaching and learning and with a positive outlook to the future. Rosemary could be relied upon to think deeply about an issue and was never afraid to advocate a viewpoint that might have been unpopular with others. She was a 'volunteer' in the true sense of the word in her work and leadership.

A recurrence of cancer forced Rosemary into early retirement. Once in remission again, she focussed her energies and agile mind on selected consultancies. She also increased her volunteer workload significantly.

Rosemary was elected to the vice-presidency and subsequently to the presidency of STANSW. She designed high-quality professional development programs which continue to be successfully delivered by the association. Her work ensured that STANSW was one of the first organisations to become an endorsed provider for Professional Development with the NSW Institute of Teachers.

Over the past two years, Rosemary worked with the Association of Independent Schools of NSW (AIS) assisting independent schools with a raft of registration and accreditation matters. She was without peer in terms of her knowledge, experience and insights into what schools needed to do to ensure that their educational and administrative practices were best practice, so that ultimately the students would be the beneficiaries of the highest quality of education.

Her unfinished work in research and development with schools in the Catholic system was groundbreaking. It provided highly valuable insights into the professional development needs of teachers and will lead to long-term and lasting effects in improving the educational outcomes for the students concerned. Rosemary's extraordinary achievements and impact on education were complemented by her amazing generosity and willingness to share her knowledge. She would always give of her precious time to provide advice and guidance when it was requested.

At Rosemary's core was her family. Her deep and abiding love shone through all she did. The fact that she managed a brilliant career while raising a family, and remained unfailingly positive through her illness, was a remarkable achievement.

Rosemary was widely respected and loved by all who knew and worked with her. She had a vivacious personality, a gracious manner and a wonderful sense of humour. At the same time, she was a person of acute intelligence and extremely high dedication. She will be greatly missed as a humanitarian and as an inspired and vibrant educational leader.[]

Adapted with permission from an original obituary by Margaret Watts.
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Title Annotation:obituary
Author:Watts, Margaret
Publication:Teaching Science
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Sep 22, 2008
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