Mr A  not about to change the tempo
Music man: Dennis Atkinson with his students. Picture: Danella Bevis/The West Australian

The oldest public school teacher in WA loves his job so much he hopes to still be teaching when he is 100.

Known to all his students, present and past, as "Mr A", Dennis Atkinson will be 81 next month.

He works one morning a week teaching music to kindergarten students at Safety Bay Primary School.

Asked how long he might continue working, Mr Atkinson said: "I think another 20 years - as long as I'm breathing and still good looking.

"While they would have me doing it, I'm very happy to do it."


After leaving Ireland in 1956, Mr Atkinson worked as a salesman and customs officer until the 1970s, when he decided to go to teachers' college at age 42.

He then taught in primary schools, including 20 years as the music specialist at Nedlands primary.

"I thought that I had retired in 2000, but I really haven't stopped since," he said. "I have enjoyed every minute. The happiest days of my life have been in teaching."

Mr Atkinson said when he moved to Safety Bay he went to register as a relief teacher at the local school.

The principal, who happened to overhear, remembered him from his days at Nedlands and offered him a job on the spot.

Mr Atkinson said though schools were stricter when he was a boy, he believed that most children were still well behaved.

"I think the world has changed tremendously over the last 20 years but children themselves haven't changed," he said.

The West Australian

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