King’s Lynn deputy head’s emotional farewell to infant school

Joan Woodard is retiring after teaching at South Wootton Infant School for 32 years. Picture: Ian Bu

Joan Woodard is retiring after teaching at South Wootton Infant School for 32 years. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

A popular deputy headteacher has retired from a King's Lynn school after more than 20 years in the job.

Joan Woodard started her teaching career at the old St Michael's Infant School in King's Lynn in 1975.

After six years she moved to South Wootton Infant School, where she spent the next 32 years – many of them as deputy headteacher and special educational needs coordinator (SENCO).

Mrs Woodard, 59, said it was 'emotional' to say goodbye to the school she knows so well, but hinted she may be back to help out with school trips and other activities.

'They gave me a wonderful send- off,' she said. 'It was quite emotional. It doesn't seem quite real but in September I will really feel it.'


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Staff and governors put on a tea party, inviting past members of staff, whereas the children gave her a book of memories to remind her of her time at South Wootton Infants.

'Of course, it's a privilege to work with so many talented people who have helped make my job so exciting and fun and the parents and children who have made it so enjoyable.

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'I'll miss the teamwork and I'll miss the children.

'However, it's time for me to look to a new challenge, time to do some walking and gardening and travel to some of the places on my to-do list.'

Mrs Woodard added that South Wootton Infants was a 'very special school' to spend almost all of her teaching career.

'It's got a wonderful atmosphere,' she said. 'You walk around and just feel it's a very happy school to work in.

'The children are the best thing about the job.'

The secret to being a good teacher, Mrs Woodard revealed, is to understand that 'different children learn best in different ways'.

As a result, teachers have to vary their teaching methods to best fit in with youngsters' learning styles.

'You have to vary – that's what makes it so fun,' she said.

'Some people learn having visual prompts, some are very good at learning by listening and others need to do.'

One of the advantages of being at South Wootton Infants for so long, she added, was that she saw not only the children's progress through the school but also, many years later, when they had grown up.

'The most important thing is that it is a fun job – as well as being hard work, but always fun,' Mrs Woodard said.

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