School bell tolls for retiring teachers

EDUCATORS: Jan Milliss, left, and Janelle Smith have spent a combined 86 years teaching. Picture: Brock PerksMOST students can’t wait to put school behind them.

But for Janelle Smith, 62, and Jan Milliss, 64, it’s taken 86 years between the two of them to finally say enough is enough.

The pair, who began as primary school teachers at Merewether Heights Public in the 1970s and 1980s, are this week celebrating their retirement from the school, a decision that did not come easy.

‘‘It was hard for me to acknowledge that it was my time to leave, as I have built some amazing friendships and memories over the years,’’ Mrs Smith said.

‘‘However, when you know, you know. It was my time to leave.’’

During their time, the two have seen drastic changes to the education system, including the introduction of smartboards and iPad as tools for teaching children.

Mrs Smith said amid change, many things stayed the same.

‘‘The foundations of the education system that I started out in are the same: supporting our children to be the best that they can be.

‘‘As a teacher, there is nothing better than watching that lightbulb moment with children, where they work something out for themselves.’’

The pair don’t anticipate leaving the school completely.

‘‘I would love to come back one day and do a bit of volunteer work, help out with a reading group or wherever I can,’’ Mrs Milliss said.

‘‘If the school is ever in need of some extra helping hands, I’ll be there,’’ Mrs Smith agreed.

■ A NEW principal has been appointed to St Philip’s Christian College Port Stephens Campus.

Dr Timothy Petterson will take over the 750-student school in 2013 following the unexpected passing of founding principal Chris Walkling from a heart attack in July.

Dr Petterson is year 7 housemaster at The King’s School, Parramatta and teaches business studies and commerce.