Celebrating IGS founding teacher Rita Morabito

IGS Director of Drama Rita Morabito, who began working at IGS at its very beginnings, in January 1984, is the first staff member to feature in our occasional series on cherished staff.

Rita, who began at IGS as a teacher of Italian, is familiar with some of the earliest days of our extraordinary secular, independent and multilingual school.

“I was one of three founding members of the School, and the first Italian teacher,” Rita said.

Ms Morabito in 1984

She worked closely with the founding Principal Reg St Leon OAM, who died in March this year.

“Reg’s passion, fervour and unflinching convication that learning a language was an exercise in academic excellence meant that he took us along with him to create a vision for aschool like no other.

“IGS produces bold and creative thinkers who continue to challenge the status quo to design a fairer and ore accepting world.”

Q and A with Rita Morabito 

Why do you love teaching?

I love seeing students engaged in their learning and tackling issues in the most profound way.

I love working closely with young people who will be the future change-makers of our world.

Ms Morabito at an IGS athletics carnival in 1990

I have taught students from preschool to university, to adult learners. I have taught Italian, English, General Primary, ESL and Drama. Drama filters into each of the other disciplines as a way of delivering content in a fun yet challenging way.

Ms Morabito and Year 1 in 1984
Why is Drama so special?

Drama is a subject like no other. Students walk in the shoes of characters and their experiences. They craft stories for a variety of audiences. The performance experience is ephemeral so no two performances are ever the same.

Introducing students to the world of theatre can be life-changing. Devising and refining take time, risk and collaboration, so there is much joy and laughter sometimes peppered with periods of intensity and vulnerability.

Guiding students through this experience and helping them to unlock their creativity is such a privilege.

When students take a risk to create something wonderful they are empowered to believe they can be and do whatever they want in life. I love seeing this transformation in action!

How do you feel about your career?

I enjoy learning, so academic life has always featured and continues to do so, both here and abroad.

Rita with her son, Jamison, who is in Year 10

I feel proud to have helped to create and found IGS. Reg St Leon was one of my research case studies when I studied at Sydney University.

Bilingual learning in Primary schools was virtually unheard of in Australia at the time so while researching in Wales, UK, Reg wrote to invite me to work on this experimental school. I guess I have been experimenting ever since!

Rita Morabito on scholarship in Bologna studying theatre with Joanna Matthews (now an IGS parent) and her brother in 1984

Alumni speak out

Thuso Lekwape (2011): I remember the first time I came to her class and was soo unenthusiastic about what she had to teach.

But by the end of the lesson she had sparked something that would turn into the journey I would pursue as a career.

I remember performing a monologue for her and she said, “It’s not there yet.” I thought it was!

She kept pushing me to be better. But the dedication and drive she had to get the best out of her students is what has led me to be a part of this Australian industry as an actor.

I still go back to IGS and watch her inspire other students to be their best through drama.

If there is one thing I know, the word ‘legend’ is the best way to describe Rita.

Other comments:

Rebecca Jee (1993) remembers singing Why don’t you do right in Italian for my first community theatre show at Leichhardt – Diavolo Zoppo. And being in the very first intake of HSC Drama! It was a privilege to be part of that with Rita. Still wish she could see me onstage now 🙂

Ms Morabito and IGS students at Randwick in 1984

Josh Walmsley (1992): The school was much smaller in my days but my lasting memories are the inspirational teachers such as Segnora

Jean-Marc Feldman (1995): Thank you for the knowledge and life experience. Awesome teacher.

Ms Morabito and students in The Journey in the late 1990s

Isabella Manfredi (2005): “You should do drama, Isabella.”
Led me to the stage,
Where I have been ever since ❤️…

Sascha Percuoco: Always creatively inspiring and one of my favourite teachers of all time, regardless of the trouble I gave her in my youth! Thank you for being you Rita.

Lynley Cooper: Wow so many great memories from my time at IGS… Learning Italian back in the 80’s and listening to ‘Mango’ on cassette player!
Class teacher and Drama teacher… playing space jump at Belvior st theatre…. and adopting Spotty from you. What a wonderful cat! Thanks for all the memories Rita! You definitely inspired me, and I thank you for that. X

Jessica Long (2009): I remember that our year 12 cohort bought her a spa voucher as a thank you because we felt we took years off her life and thought we should let her rejuvenate a bit. She always gave everything to her students.

Charlotte Bonser (2005): Loved learning about Commedia dell’arte with her thank you for being such a great teacher! 💕

David Moulton: I started at IGS in ’86 and have very fond memories of Rita.

Pasquale Gallifuoco (1994): You were such an inspiration and important teacher in my life. Conratulations Miss Morabito – really great to see this 🙌😃

Toby Reynolds (1993): “Focus!!😂”

Manet Conolly (2013): This woman was more than a ‘drama teacher’ to me, but a mentor in many ways. Not only did she inspire my love for theatre, but she gave me the feedback, the tools and the drive to go beyond what I thought I could do and continuously push myself further…See more

Maddy Stedman (2012): What a wonderful teacher and asset to IGS! Love you Rita!