Rob Hunter was in his ninth day of his first teaching job when his class was kidnapped at gunpoint by an escaped prisoner.
It was Valentine's Day, 1977 when Edwin John Eastwood burst into Mr Hunter's classroom in Wooreen, South Gippsland.
Eastwood - who had been jailed for a similar kidnapping in Faraday, near Chewton, in 1972 - had been on the run for two months when he set his sights on Mr Hunter and his nine primary school students.
Mr Hunter said his adrenaline was running high throughout the 21-hour ordeal and that if it wasn't for the bravery of a truck driver, he and his students may not have been left unscathed.
But while for many, that ordeal would have broken them, for Mr Hunter, it only made him stronger.
"Resilience wasn't a word that we ever really used in those days," Mr Hunter said. "It did affect me to some extent but I think it's probably been a process.
"It's made me more empathetic to people who are hurting. It's probably made me more able to connect with the down and out, and the people who are going through hard times."
Mr Hunter, who was only 20 years old at the time, went on to teach for more than 40 years. While he always wanted to share his story, it was only a few years ago that he began to pen his novel, Day 9 at Wooreen.
"About five years ago, one of the Grade Six girls came to visit me," Mr Hunter said. "I hadn't seen her since the day we'd been saved and she just came to say thank you.
"That was really special and I thought I better get cracking here."
Mr Hunter said he was able to cope with the trauma because of his key principles of gratitude, forgiveness, reaching out to people and staying true to his beliefs.
He now shares his story, and the lessons he learnt, in his Kidnapped Teacher Talks. Year 11 students from Victory Christian College heard from Mr Hunter on Tuesday.
"The main reason that I got Rob in was that so many young people go through hard times," teacher Dale Caldwell said. "Sometimes when you go through a hard time, you think it will never end or how will I survive.
"The purpose of getting Rob in is showing that you can survive hard times and that even good things can come out of hard times."
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