School reunion delights

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25 February 2019

Joseph Pham and Natalie Brown. Photography by Dennis Manktelow, Brimbank & North West Star Weekly.By Tate Papworth

Just a few years into her teaching career, Natalie Brown met Joseph Pham. Mr Pham was a student in Ms Brown’s Prep class at St Peter Chanel School in Deer Park in 1997.

Twenty-two years later, they have been reunited at Caroline Chisholm Catholic College, Braybrook. Ms Brown is the school’s new community engagement coordinator and Mr Pham is a first-year teacher.

Ms Brown said they crossed paths during the school’s orientation earlier this year. ‘When we arrived on the first day, we both looked at each other and started laughing – it was amazing’, she said.

Mr Pham recognised his former teacher, but was unsure of how to address her. ‘Nat saw my name on the sheet and then on orientation day we approached each other’, Mr Pham said. ‘I said, “Hello, Ms Brown” and she said, “You can call me Natalie now”.’

Mr Pham is the first former student Ms Brown has crossed paths with as a teacher and she couldn’t be happier for him. ‘It’s really rewarding to see he’s gone down the education path and I’m really proud of who he is’, Ms Brown said.

‘I had a lovely relationship with his family, particularly his grandmother, which had a beautiful impact on me. That’s one of the great things about working in the west – the people and the diversity out here is what’s kept me as a teacher this side of the city for all this time.’

Mr Pham said that although it was 22 years ago, he still has fond memories of his former mentor. ‘I was four years old … but I remember Natalie had a really strong relationship with me and my grandma’, Mr Pham said. ‘She was a real influence on my grandma, who was a real influence on me, which is a reflection on Natalie.’

This article was originally published in the Brimbank & North West Star Weekly on 19 February 2019.