Image: Sue Haydon, retiring Senior Support Officer in UNE School of Education’s professional placements team; A proud moment: Sue (centre) and colleagues acknowledged with a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Service in 2005. 

“It is wonderful to see the development of a student from the beginning to the end of their degree.”

Over a 31 year career at UNE, Sue Haydon has developed a skill and passion for effective student communication. She’s built a reputation for always putting the student first – even while navigating the many changes and challenges in technology and systems over time. 

From working as a typesetter for the Armidale Express, Sue took up a position at UNE’s Rural Development Centre in 1988, learning to use a word processor. Jumping over to Student Administration by the year’s end, she spotted an unused Macintosh computer.

“It really annoyed me to be using an electric typewriter when we had a computer in the office,” Sue says.

“I found out who the computer person was and asked him to assist me in developing a database which could be used on this computer to correspond with students. So began my fascination with using databases to make documents easier to produce.”

But Sue’s initiative and persistence in her work has extended well beyond her aptitude with technology, particularly as a long-term member of the UNE Office for Professional Learning, facilitating education student placements.

For education students, professional placements are a critical component of their learning, and Sue has always been known to make the experience as smooth and enjoyable for students as possible.

“I believe strongly in developing effective communication for schools and students. A goal of mine has been for schools to accept UNE students above other universities because of our effective communication documents. This has paid off, as our office has received much positive feedback from schools about how easy and effective our documents are,” Sue says.

“It has always been important to me to help in any way I could to assist the students.”

For Sue, working with systems and processes has never been more important than the humans they seek to serve – and never has the purpose of her work come into sharper focus than on graduation days.

“I’ve always loved being involved in graduation days; it’s an occasion where you often get to put a face to a name for students you have helped so often during their candidature, and I’ve always felt so proud for the students and their families,” Sue says.

“A career highlight would have to be the many times students have made mention of the placements on graduation days, thanking us for arranging their placements for them and for our hard work.” 

Facilitating practical experience placements over many years has enabled Sue to cultivate long-term relationships and see the ongoing value of her work.

“It has been lovely to see students who attended UNE now teaching in schools and to maintain regular contact. It is also great to hear them say, ‘I went to UNE so now I want to support them by supervising a student teacher on their placement’.”

At times, Sue’s work has had a greater influence on the lives of students than she could have anticipated.

“I remember placing two young ladies who both wanted placements in Armidale schools, however, this was not possible. I worked with them to organise their placements in other towns: Narrabri and Coffs Harbour. On these placements, both of these young ladies met their now husbands! I believe I inadvertently played Cupid by placing them where I did!”

The placements were also a great success for the students professionally – both stayed on their area of placement for many years, with one becoming a deputy principal.

Overall, Sue says it has been a very satisfying career.

“Working in teaching placements has been demanding and hard work, however, working with schools, students and lecturers has been very rewarding,” she says.

Now, as she leaves UNE after 31 years of outstanding service, the lucky ‘students’ to benefit will be her three granddaughters.

“I love spending time with them. Being a mum is great, but being a grandmother is absolutely wonderful. I watch my granddaughters play sport and I am very involved in their life. I do believe I may be gainfully employed as a taxi service assisting my son and daughter in-law by driving my granddaughters around to sport and whatever else they may be involved with.”

Sue also plans to spend more time practising meditation and Tai Chi, reading, doing crosswords, going to the gym, playing golf, sketching, painting and perhaps learning the piano.

“I will miss working with everyone, however, believe it is now time for a changing of the guard in the Professional Experience Office at UNE,” Sue says.  

“Thank you to all my colleagues and friends at UNE I have enjoyed working with you all.”


Well wishes for Sue

  • This week the Office for Professional Learning will be saying goodbye to Sue Haydon as she starts her new and exciting chapter away from UNE … for the first time since 1988! Sue will be greatly missed in the OPL, not only because the amount of knowledge regarding professional experience she will take with her is nothing short of remarkable, we will also remember her unwavering commitment, often beyond the call of duty to ensuring students were provided with every opportunity to succeed on their placements. Sue has been part of many changes in the history of the OPL. Regardless of the impact of these changes personally or in the team, Sue’s first priority was always making sure the students were given precedence above all else.”­ – Georgia, Office for Professional Learning. 
  • “Sue Haydon has been synonymous with the professional experience of UNE teacher education students for over thirty years. Sue’s approach was not only professional, it was also based on an encyclopaedic knowledge of the diverse requirements of the units associated with professional experience. Most of all Sue has always had a focus on doing all she can to improve the experience of students and thereby produce better teachers. Sue, you will be greatly missed in the OPL and in the School of Education, but we all wish you a rich and enjoyable retirement.”Brian, Office for Professional Learning.