Diss High headteacher Jan Hunt has paid tribute to three “giants of the profession” who are retiring from the school next week.
Long-serving teachers Jenny Gwillim, Mary Lewell and Lynne Gittins have more than 100 years of teaching experience, and have spent a combined 89 years at the south Norfolk school.
We thank them for their amazing input into the life of the school and we wish them a very well-deserved and happy retirementDr Jan Hunt, headteacher, Diss High School
Dr Hunt said: “All three ladies are giants of the profession.
“We thank them for their amazing input into the life of the school and we wish them a very well-deserved and happy retirement.”
Mrs Lewell said she wanted to be a teacher from the age of five. And with a love for sport — she was a junior international basketball player — she embarked on a career to combine the two.
Mrs Lewell went to teacher training college in Norwich, securing a degree from UEA, and her initial 12-year spell as a PE teacher in Diss witnessed the amalgamation of the town’s secondary and grammar schools.
Following a break after adopting two boys, she returned 14 years ago as a special educational needs coordinator (SENCO).
“You just have an affinity for it, and I’ve never wanted to do anything else,” she said. “I will really miss it.”
She added she hopes to find a part-time job, and will take on some pastoral work for DC3.
Fellow Scole resident Mrs Gwillim went to teacher training college in Watford and trained as an English and drama teacher.
She started her first role in 1978 as a 21-year-old, at an all-boys in Sittingbourne, as the only female member of staff, but said it was “really tough” to get her break in the profession.
Mrs Gwillim, who began at Diss High School 29 years ago and has worked as an assistant head of English and assistant head of year, said she applied for 150 jobs in the space of 17 weeks.
She moved to another school in Kent for four terms, and moved to the area to start in Diss 1987, played a big role in getting the first drama studio built, and helped to put plays on over the years.
She said she will miss teaching, but will continue to assist the exam board, and hopes to visit her eldest son James, who lives in America.
Mrs Gittins, who lives near Long Stratton, attained a certificate in teaching at the University of Bradford and began teaching in Waltham Forest, London, in 1979, before moving to Diss High School in 1982.
In that time she has taught maths and psychology, and has also been head of year, and will start her retirement with a holiday to the Isle of Man in September.
“I’ll miss it incredibly,” she said.
“The challenges in teaching haven’t really changed — it is just trying to do the best for the students and manage what the government throw at you.
“Fortunately in Diss the students over the last 34 years for me have been great.”