Virginia grew up at Westmead, Sydney, in a large and loving Catholic family. Schooled by Mercy Sisters at Parramatta, she left at fourteen to work in the city. At nineteen, she decided to become a teacher.
Her first teaching post was at St Michael’s Primary, Blacktown South. The classroom was a corrugated iron shed and its windows looked out onto a dairy farm. For the next ten years she worked in a variety of Catholic primary schools. Studying to be a Secondary Art teacher by night and teaching by day she became a Visual Art teacher.
After marriage and having a son, Virginia left Sydney with her family to live on a farm at Narooma. The positions of Resource teacher at Central Tilba School and Moruya High (Music, Drama and Special Education) broadened her teaching knowledge. As Outreach Literacy Advisor for Wallaga Lake Yuin Aboriginal settlement, Virginia worked with Gabbu Ted Thomas and Ann Thomas and the Aboriginal Community teaching and learning oral histories. This led to her endorsement from Merriman Land Council. Her Honey and Nut store gave her space to set up a studio and carry out workshops for adults and children in the Tilba community.
Virginia received a grant to write a white paper, ‘Supporting Boys as Learners’ and, assisted by an inter-regional committee, produced a document of value about the appropriate ways of educating boys who were challenged by literacy.
Virginia also worked as a Support Teacher Learning Difficulties at Miller High School and developed Rock Eisteddfod at Miller High.
Five years later she went to live and work in Manly at the Royal Far West School for Specific Purposes. For fourteen years she taught country students in varying degrees of distress and expanded her role as a senior teacher covering all subjects.
As a member of the Manly community she served on several Council committees and was involved in various community events which included co-producing the Cooee Classic Surfing events in partnership with Carolyn Glass-Pattinson, which was supported by Manly, Warringah and Pittwater Councils for NAIDOC Week celebrations; exhibiting in Ocean Care Day for Manly Environment Centre led her to be invited by the Italian Committee for Florence Biennale in 2005; and, with Lois Birk (RFWS) (GAECG), she was a founding member of the local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group for 18 years. Participating in poetry and writing groups gave expression to her creativity which led to an award from the Federation of Australian Writers – ‘The Migrant Experience’ in 1998.
Virginia spent her final three professional years at Fisher Road School for Specific Purposes. On retirement she relocated to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and is enjoying the challenges of a vigorous garden and becoming part of a new community while she continues to pursue her creative endeavours.
Where to find Virginia Gow online
Where to buy in print
Escarpment: Fibonacci poetry
by Virginia Gow
In her book, Escarpment: Fibonacci poetry, Virginia Gow has applied the Fibonacci sequence of numbers to her poetry by counting the syllables in the words to determine the length of the lines.
The subsequent patterns make for a visually appealing book, quite aside from the pleasures of Virginia's poetry.
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