Once someone retires, it’s rare for them to return to their workplace, let alone engage in their profession regularly. For the past 23 years, John Emmett has done exactly that. 

Mr Emmett retired as a primary school principal in 2000, then stepped straight into multiple classrooms to teach Special Religious Education. At the young age of 81, he currently has three regular schools, cutting back from the five he taught at last year. 

His motivation to continue being in classrooms stems from seeing so many families choose to send their children to SRE. “It’s the most important thing they need to hear,” he says. “It’s very important to teach people the gospel.” 

Mr Emmett spent the first half of his career as a classroom teacher, then was principal of two primary schools – in the Eastern Suburbs and the Georges River area – for the next 22 years. He says a lifetime of tools and classroom experience comes in handy when teaching Scripture. 

“I love explaining things to kids. I’ve learned to manage children and situations. From being a principal, I know how schools work and the operations. I think being both a teacher and then a principal gives me a great ability to teach Scripture in the public schools I do teach in.”

His own faith journey also started very young. His mother sent him along to the Sunday school at Sylvania when he was four, and 77 years later he still attends every Sunday, making him the longest-serving member of the church. 

With more than two decades of teaching Scripture, and another 40+ years in a school environment, Mr Emmett knows how important SRE is to young people. He wants to encourage Christians everywhere to understand the value of serving in schools and committing their local public schools to prayer. 

“Please pray for the gospel ministry through Scripture teachers,” he says. “[Pray they will be] faithful in preparation – that’s the key – to think through the lessons as carefully as they can… [and] pray for all the children.”

Mr Emmett has a methodological approach to praying for his students. He takes each class list and divides it into six groups. “So, Monday to Saturday, I pray for a sixth of each class. On Sundays, I pray for the principal and the teacher of every class. It’s God’s work, but my privilege to serve him wholeheartedly in this way.” 

Pray for public school Scripture 

  • Pray for the principals and teachers who help Scripture to happen weekly
  • Pray for the students of SRE classes
  • Pray for SRE teachers to faithfully prepare lessons well
  • Pray for parents to continue to choose to send their children to SRE 
  • Pray that more people with time and willingness will undertake the training required and join the great host of SRE teachers, helping kids explore their faith in NSW public schools