South Shields nursery teacher retires after an incredible 50 years in the same school

A South Shields nursery teacher is set to retire this week after an incredible 50 years of teaching in the same school where she was once also a pupil.

Carolyn Reay, 66, from Harton Village, in South Shields, will leave Harton Primary School this week after an incredible 50-year career working as a nursery teacher and having an impact on the lives of many South Tyneside children.

Carolyn attended the Harton Primary School herself growing up, before starting in full time employment at the school in 1972.

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The retirement brought about mixed emotions for Carolyn, who said she will be sad to leave the school, staff and children, as well as a workplace she has described as ‘a home from home’.

Carolyn with pupils from Harton Primary School
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She said: “There's definitely been a lot of mixed emotions about retiring. I’ve been doing it for so long and I’m going to miss it a lot.

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"The staff are so fantastic and the children just make you smile every day. You can come into work feeling down and the children come in and that’s it, you’re just happy for the rest of the day.

“There’s been so many highlights and lovely moments over the last 50 years but the friendships I’ve made with the staff are amazing. We have a good laugh, moan to each other and because I’ve been here for so long it’s like a home from home. It’s not like coming to work at all.”

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Carolyn with a Harton Primary School teddy bear

Karen Ratcliffe, headteacher at Harton Primary School praised the impact of Carolyn and her amazing 50 year achievement.

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She added: “Carolyn will be a massive miss to the school. We’re not quite sure what we’re going to do without her.

"She’s had an impact on the lives of all the pupils but the staff as well, 50 years is an incredible achievement and we all wish her well. As one of the children said this morning, she’s our ray of sunshine.”

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In retirement, Carolyn says she plans to booking a holiday for this summer as well as getting jobs done around the house and reorganising her garden, one of her personal passions.