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A brief history

John and Forrest Woodbury established Woodbury Boston Primary School in 1980. Their aim and dream was to provide a kind, environmentally whole education for children in the Albany region and beyond. They had moved to Albany from Perth in the mid 1970s, to establish a camp school facility focusing on environmental education.

In the late 1970s, John and Forrest realised, especially after discussions with other parents in the region, that Albany was lacking in any alternative to the mainstream government and Catholic primary schools. With the support of a small number of enthusiastic parents, they founded the school in 1980. Their aim was to have a school where the children were treated as individuals, where their  varying educational needs and interests would be met, and where they were treated with kindness and respect. The school started with just eight students, and was housed in a neighbouring un-used farmhouse. After a couple of years, the school moved into a shed on its current site, which has since been demolished and replaced with the new administration building. In 1984 a purpose-built classroom was erected using grant funds received from the commonwealth government, with further classrooms and general use buildings being added over the following years.

John Woodbury was the founding principal of the school, a role he held until his retirement in 2003.  Forrest was a full partner in the founding and running of the school, and was the office manager for 25 years. (For many of those 25 years – the ‘office’ was the Woodbury’s kitchen table!)

The word slowly spread about the great things Woodbury Boston was doing for children, and the enrolment numbers slowly but steadily grew. In 1988 the school was featured in a series of stories on alternative education, on the Midday Show with Ray Martin. This feature generated a huge amount of interest, and the student numbers swelled, getting as high as 100+ students in the mid 1990s. The school now has a population of approximately 80 students, and a waiting list for enrolments.

John and Forrest retired from the school in 2003 and 2005 respectively.

Rex Davies was employed as the Teaching Principal of the school in 2004, and remained until his retirement at the end of 2014. Rex came to the school with many years’ experience in schools around Australia and overseas, including small Aboriginal community schools in the Northern Territory and the north of Western Australia, and as well as his educational experience, brought with him a love of nature and adventure.

The land on which the school is situated was owned by John and Forrest Woodbury, and leased to the  school. In December 2017 the land was purchased by the school Governing Body, giving the school complete autonomy over the site. The extended Woodbury family remain valued neighbours.

Where does the name Woodbury Boston come from?

Well the Woodbury part is obvious! John Woodbury is West Australian born and raised, and trained as a teacher in the 1960s. John worked in government primary schools and a private high school in Perth before moving to Albany with his family in 1975.

John is a passionate soul, who delights in sailing, guitar playing, and spending time with his grand-children. Since 2004, when he ‘retired’ from the role as school manager and Principal, John has been the owner and operator of Albany Whale Tours, where he spends his days on his catamaran Sail-A-Way, imparting his passion for Albany and the environment to tourists and locals alike. John also in the past made his sailing expertise and accreditation available to the primary school at its annual sailing camp.

Forrest Woodbury was born in Sri Lanka, and moved to Perth as a child. She also trained as a teacher, and worked in government high schools before moving to Albany.

Forrest is a wonderful jazz singer, and her soulful renditions, accompanied by the Will Upson trio, formed the basis of one of the school’s fund-raising events, the annual ‘Jazz Afternoon’, for several years. Forrest is also a talented artist and artisan, with her most recent avenue for expression being the fabulous and elaborate bags she makes and sells locally.

John and Forrest live on the family property, adjacent to the school. They have 3 children, two of whom attended the school, and 5 grandchildren, 3 of whom also attended the school.

And what of the Boston? Albany draftsman Larry Boston was a partner in the project when the school was established. Larry’s contribution is visible in the design of the magnificent school buildings. Larry remains a valued neighbour and supporter of the school; however his active involvement ended many years ago.