A LONG-SERVING teacher, famous for offering custard creams to pupils, has retired after 32 years at a West Devon village school.
Jane Brown left Bere Alston Primary as PE coordinator after 32 years’ of introducing pupils to sporting fun, exercise, dance, gymnastics, poetry and art.
Her official farewell was at the leavers’ assembly, where children gave her a giant card they had created and colleagues presented her with flowers and gifts.
Parents also showed appreciation by bringing gifts to her home in Bere Alston, including a custard cream themed cushion, flowers and wine.
The custard cream biscuits refer to her habit of rewarding and incentivising children when she held her after-school gym clubs and other sporting events.
Jane, who is retiring at the same time as her husband Neil, said: “I absolutely love working with children and am passionate about teaching. I always aimed to be a good role model for the children and will miss them such a lot. I’m not sure how I will feel when the school summer holidays are over. At the moment it’s like any other working year, when I break up at the end of term. I’m going to keep really busy so that when it comes to September, I will be distracted and not get too upset about not returning. I also know that if I do anything more than take ‘morale-boosting food parcels’ down to school, I will get drawn back into helping out — I won’t be able to resist, I love the place — it’s my second home!
“Bere Alston School has been my life and my life has been this school. It has taken over my life to a such an extent that it has almost become part of my DNA. My work/life balance has always tipped over into being dominated by school. Even when I was at home I was working. Our plan now is to spend more time together — walking and travelling and to modernise the house which has taken a back seat.”
Jane is also involved with Young Church at Bere Alston United Church and Bere Peninsula Singers. She often meets ex-pupils who ask if she is still teaching gymnastics and tell her she is teaching their children: “Thankfully, they all seem to have fond memories. Teachers have such a lot of power over how children experience school. I have always tried to make PE as enjoyable and accessible as possible and just hope I’ve had a mainly positive influence.”
Inspirational colleagues include Kim Wild (ex-headteacher), Barbara Birchell and John Howard (with whom Jane ran Gym Club for over 20 years). Jane has stuck with Bere Alston Primary through thick and thin; and after a few rollercoaster years recently, the school is now rebuilding under the dynamic leadership of Gareth Bemister.