Teacher Spotlight

Irene Ong - Japanese Specialist 


Irene Pictures



Why did you decide to become a teacher?

The economic downturn at the end of my undergraduate business degree was a blessing in disguise as I found jobs were hard to come by. Upon good parental advice I completed a Graduate Diploma in teaching and found that my true passion lies in teaching languages.

What is your professional story?

I attended Curtin University of Technology for both my bachelor and Graduate Diploma degrees. I have taught mostly in Perth metro schools - Rockingham, Mandurah, Morley, Ferndale, Success, Leeming and Winthrop over the last 22 years, the longest being Winthrop Primary School, since 2000.

I am very thankful to call Australia home for the past 30 years as it has provided me with many opportunities and successes in learning the Japanese language and to enhance my teaching experiences and skills, through various trips to Japan as an educator and in personal travels.

In my teaching journey, I love seeing students enjoy their learning of the language, seeing their understanding of language connections when the ‘pin drops’. I enjoy meeting and hearing from students past and present on how their interest in the language was ignited in their primary school years and how language learning and acquisition has played a part in what they do now in their career, hobbies and travels.

Some of my best memories teaching at Winthrop Primary School were the two school trips to our then sister school in Japan in 2004 and 2007. Though many years have since passed, I’m privileged to still be in touch with some of the students who came on the trips and have enjoyed listening to their stories of life-long involvement with Japan, its language and culture.

What do you like to do away from school?

I love crafting and cooking when I have the time. In the past year I have enjoyed creating things made possible using the cricut machine. When travel is allowed again, I would love to return to Japan to fulfill some of my travel plans, to go to places I have not been and to once again immerse in the beauty of the language and culture Japan has to offer.


2021 Classroom Teachers:

Lisa Chamberlain, Jan Dunlop

Pre Primary:
PP1 Wanda Mewett & Chris Pepper 

PP2 Michele Gartner & Leigh Savage

PP3 Chris Friend & Leigh Savage

Year 1:

A1 Kathleen McCarthy

A2 Deanne Maher & Wendy Tweedie

B1 Laree Aziz

Year 2:

B2 Rita Radici & Nicole Holstein

B3 Jeanine Candy / Chelsea Emslie

B4 Katy Moriarty

Year 3:

C1 Therese Cianfrini & Viv Miguel 

C2 Jenny Cotham

C3 Maisie Stein

Year 3/4: 

C4 Brayden O'Dell 

Year 4:

D1 Kate O'Donovan & Leeta Cornish

D2 Alison Kelly & Annie Chua

Year 4/5:

D3 Dot Davies & Sue Hartley 

Year 5:

D4 Gail Reed

E3 Lauren Riquelme & Louise Snook 

Year 6:

E1 Celeste Dickinson

E2 Wayne Dickinson

D4 Steven Knoth 

Specialist Teachers:


Japanese Language Program:
Irene Ong Sensei

Elizabeth Campbell

Rhonda Thorncroft

Physical Education: 
James Cowan