Many members will be saddened at the passing of Life Member Cris Treneman. Cris was a remarkable woman of great humour and compassion, an exceptional Federation activist and Officer. She was also an outstanding advocate for special education.
After completing teacher training in New Zealand in 1951, Cris taught in a number of small schools in New Zealand and Tasmania until 1954. She then resigned from teaching as so many women did to take up full-time work as a mother, raising three children for 17 years.
She began her second teaching career in 1971 at Beverly Hills North PS in Sydney. In 1972, a significant change in her life took place when she transferred to Minerva Street SSP (School for Special Purposes) in Sutherland. She went from being a specialist infants teacher to a Year 10 IM (mild intellectual disability) class of 22-plus students. She played a key role with other members of staff in developing innovative programs at that time, such as work experience and independent living skills.
Her transfer to Minerva St not only transformed her professional life but also her future life in general. It was in 1973 that a major industrial confrontation took place at that school, with the staff supporting the principal, Pat Lee (Federation Life Member) in refusing to enrol students so as to achieve class size reductions from 22 to 16. That then-famous dispute was a victory for the staff and the Federation. It also had a profound effect on Cris, who became increasingly more active in Federation.
In June 1977, Cris was elected as a Federation Organiser, a role in which she excelled. During the years 1977–1985, she was variously the Organiser for the Camden-Campbelltown, Picton, St George, Hawkesbury and St Mary’s-Mt Druitt associations. Throughout this period she maintained a prominent role as an advocate of special education. She was also a fierce advocate for women in Federation and in general society.
In 1986, Cris began her third teaching career when appointed to Cromehurst SSP where she worked closely with principal Ken Johnson (also a Life Member) who was also a personal friend. She subsequently transferred to Carinya SSP. During this time she was a member of Federation Council and Executive. She also held a large number of other positions on Federation and Department committees. Most of all, she remained focused on special education issues.
In 1993, she was elected a Federation Welfare Officer and worked in that capacity from 1993-96. At this point she finally retired from her teaching and Federation careers.
She and her partner, Don Coleman, then moved to Gulgong where they indulged their passion for antiques by establishing an antiques dealership in the town’s old Oddfellows Hall, which they extensively renovated. After a number of years there they eventually retired to the Southern Highlands.
We pay tribute to a very fine woman, great teacher and exceptional Federationist. If we stand on the shoulders of giants she was most certainly one of them.
Ted Kenny is a Life Member