TEACHER Marilyn Smith had no idea when she came into school yesterday morning, that she would be having a surprise party to celebrate her retirement.
And when she realised what was happening, she burst into tears.
The 64-year-old has worked at Waterloo Special School in Waterlooville as a teacher for more than 30 years and is due to retire today.
She said: ‘I’m very sad. I have enjoyed every minute of it though it’s been very challenging at times.
‘I’m looking forward to all the new things I can try and do.
‘It’s a fabulous staff team here. It’s brilliant.
‘The sort of work that we do you need to have a good staff team.
‘The children are all great. They have all got their individual personalities. It’s fantastic.’
Staff decorated the hall and made a special throne for Mrs Smith to sit on. She also had a cake to mark the big day.
Angela Hollins, acting headteacher, has been at the school for 12 years.
She said: ‘She’s very dedicated. All the children come to her when they feel poorly. She’s gone above and beyond.
‘It seems really weird. Marilyn has always been part of Waterloo School.
‘She’s been overwhelmed several times. There were lots of tears.
‘The children would have been upset if they hadn’t done this because she is part of the school.’
Jane Hoon has taught at the school for 20 years.
She said: ‘I can’t believe she won’t be here.
‘She’s been part of the furniture for such a long time.
‘The children just love her. She has such a lovely relationship with them.
‘She’s always wanted the best for our children.
‘It was a lovely surprise for her. She was thrilled.’
Year 6 pupil Jack Turner, 11, said: ‘It’s sad to see her go. She’s been here for 30 years.
‘She’s been good when I’ve been here. She’s a very good teacher. I hope she has a nice time with what she’s doing.’
Year 6 pupil Emily Cotton, 11, added: ‘She’s wonderful. We did girls club together. I’m sad because I’m going to miss her.’
Mrs Smith will begin her retirement with an eight-week holiday travelling around Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Dubai.