Julia Armstrong - Order of Australia Medal
Jaspers Brush resident Julia Armstrong has received a Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her service to the performing arts through theatre support roles.
Mrs Armstrong, who taught at Bomaderry Public School for 20 years, fully retired in 2020 and was known to teach through the medium of performing arts.
She has been a committee member of the Shoalhaven Eisteddfod since 2015 and a committee member of Albatross Musical Theatre since 2017, where she was instrumental in starting the Junior Albatross Musicals group for children aged 10 to 15.
From 2002 to 2020, Mrs Armstrong also volunteered in various roles, including being a part of the stage management support team for the Southern Stars School Spectacular.
After finishing her degree in Melbourne, she moved to be with her husband, Geoff in Bahrain in 1978.
There she started her career teaching at an international school.
Mr Armstrong said his wife had a special ability to connect to students of all backgrounds and abilities.
"The class that Julia had in Bahrain had 24 kids from 22 different nationalities and by the end of the year they were all speaking English," he said.
"Knowing me they were probably singing it," Mrs Armstrong replied.
Two years after starting her career, Mr Armstrong was seconded to Perth and Julia followed.
She taught at Perth College Junior School where she continued mixing teaching with performing arts.
After her children were born, she continued work at the college where she ran the costume wardrobe.
"I did a lot at Perth College, they called me the mistress of the robes," she said.
In 1992 she moved to Jaspers Brush and began teaching at Bomaderry Public.
"When I really got into it at Bomaderry Public, I wrote 10 pageants (we called them pageants) and all of the students of the school were involved," she said.
"And then a very forward thinking principal gave me a room which we called the studio and I was able to teach drama as a subject which is really unusual in primary schools."
It was during this time that Mrs Armstrong also ran the choir and verse speaking through the Shoalhaven Eisteddfod.
One of the things she was most proud of was her productions involving children with special needs.
At the moment she is half way through working on a Junior Albatross Musicals (JAM), Alice in Wonderland production including special needs children.
"I'm very proud of JAM because I have driven that," she said.
"And it's been a really great organisation for children in the area - we even have kids coming down from Albion Park.
"In this current production we have about seven children who actually have special needs and you wouldn't know because they're just part of the group.
"And its a great learning experience for the other children to be working with them."
Junior Albatross Musicals' Alice in Wonderland is scheduled for Friday, July 2 at 7pm and Saturday, July 3 at 1pm and 7pm.
Mrs Armstrong thanked her mother, who was an early education teacher who used puppetry and drama in the classroom, for inspiring her and her siblings to get involved in performing arts.
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