Growing up with drug-addicted parents, Terese Hooper knows firsthand what it means to struggle against adversity. Now, the inspiring Life Education employee and mother-of-three is working hard to secure the wellbeing of children across the state ...
"I was a child of neglect bordering on abuse. Born to teenagers who struggled with addiction and poor life choices, both my parents ended up in prison.
Armed with a bag of toiletries I didn’t know how to use, I was sent to boarding school at age eight. I look back at my school photos and proudly see that, over the years, I did get better at doing my own ponytails.
I didn’t know I was different from the other children, initially. Then it became clear that loved children are free to flourish and learn, where the unloved just survive.
My belief is that all children should reach their potential. The day I realised I was free to create my own future was a revelation. It would be a life enacted differently.
But enacting life differently was challenging when I was later deposited in Sydney’s Kings Cross with a drug dependent mother and a two-year-old sibling to raise.
At age 14 and not in school, yet really hungry to learn, I enrolled myself into a Fine Arts course and then completed high school at TAFE.
Living with an addict was hard. If I needed a camera for art school, Mum would go and steal one. The next week it would have been sold again. We didn’t have hot water for two years; it was a luxury we couldn’t afford.
The egocentric nature of addiction prevented us from breaking free. I am fortunate to be resilient. I fought very hard to hold my head up high and see over the challenges before me. I used to walk past the Wayside Chapel daily; it represented hope and familiarity to me.
At 18, I met my husband and parented with the intent to grow three strong, proud, independent and resilient beings. I have luxuriated in parenting, greedily enjoying every moment.
I hold a Bachelor of Education and have worked as an Early Childhood Teacher, mentored and guided the educational practices of Family Day Care providers and, for a year, I was an Educator with Life Education.
Now as Life Education’s Schools Partnership Executive, the well-being of children is at the forefront of all I do. I want to see as many children as possible break free, see life enacted differently, find the part of themselves that is unbreakable and realise their potential. Surviving is not enough; they must flourish.
This year I am proud to say we have seen a surge in numbers of formerly inactive schools engaging with Life Education. I attribute this to new leadership, fresh new programs, a great communicative team and robust sensitivities to teachers’ needs. If we can make it easier for schools to engage with Life Education, that’s great.
It’s the children who have the most to gain and that’s what drives me.”
Terese Hooper - School Partnerships Executive, Life Education NSW
For over 35 years, Life Education's specially trained educators have visited schools around Australia.