Miss Mary Jessie Todd was born in Hobart on 12 May 1889 to Mr William and Mrs Jean Todd. Miss Todd began her career at Hutchins in 1918, one year before the official opening of the Junior School in .
A Kindergarten and Preparatory Class has been added to our establishment this quarter. These classes are in [the] charge of Miss Todd, to whom we extend a hearty welcome. A special teacher in a separate room, to take charge of our little ‘Kindergarteners’ is certainly an acquisition to our school.
The Hutchins Kindergarten was formally established after the amalgamation with Franklin House School in which was already running a Kindergarten, with Miss Todd taking over from Miss McAlister in .
From the moment Miss Todd entered our Kindergarten, she created a world designed solely for the education of our youngest students. She used the Montessori method of teaching, which at that time was considered quite a new approach and took a great individual interest in each student. Every School Magazine mentioned how she immersed her students in the School as a whole with many notes about how busy the Kindergarten children were preparing for school fairs, performances and parades. In , the Kindergarten focus was on Japan where Miss Todd transformed the classroom into a sea of Japanese umbrellas, lanterns and cherry blossoms. Miss Todd also heavily focused on ‘Nature Study’ with weekly visits to the Christ’s College ground with games organised for the students.
In , Miss Todd showed her true empathy and care for her students when during a diphtheria outbreak in Hobart, many of her students contracted the disease, including Billy Gill, the only child of Mr and Mrs W H Gill, who tragically did not survive. Miss Todd described Billy as ‘a child of sweet and gentle nature — loved by us all’ (Hutchins School Magazine, Midwinter ).
By , Miss Todd had begun to fall ill and even though her health was failing she still had an impact on the Kindergarten children, with student R Eccles Snowden saying ‘We have pretty pictures on our walls. We all like drawing. Miss Todd is very kind’ (Hutchins School Magazine, December ).
Miss Todd was only 34 when she passed away on and was buried at Queenborough Cemetery, where The Hutchins School stands today before being moved to Cornelian Bay in the mid-20th century. Headmaster Mr C C Thorold described Miss Todd as ‘faithful and untiring’, with the following tribute published after her death:
Her day’s work did not stop with the close of school in the afternoon, because she gave many hours of her private time to beautifying our room… we only hope that we may be the better boys for having been under her influence. May the memory of her constant cheerfulness and readiness to attend to our little wants remain a bright spot with us for many days to come.
Although the early loss of Miss Todd was a severe blow to the School, the Hutchins Kindergarten continued under the careful watch of long-serving Kindergarten teacher, and former assistant to Miss Todd, Miss Gertrude Frizoni.