PHOTOS

50-year career: Parkes East Public School teacher Maureen Massey retires

She fought off the tears all day, until a class of students knocked on her door with a giant farewell card.

Parkes East Public School's Maureen Massey officially retired last Thursday, ending an incredible 50-year teaching career.

She chose the end of Term 1 in 2021 for three special reasons - this year marked her 50th year, she's been associated with Parkes East Public for 41 years and on April 17 she turns 70.

"It's time," she said.

"It's bittersweet... I never thought I'd be teaching this long!

"I'm teaching the kids of kids I've taught. I had a 56-year-old man come up to me the other day and tell me I was his favourite teacher!" She laughed.

Mrs Massey has been the school's Learning and Support Teacher (LAST) for 24 years but her career began on the south coast at Oak Flats Public School in 1972.

She graduated from Wollongong Teachers College in 1971 before heading to her former primary school when her family lived in the Shellharbour area.

But as Mrs Massey says the road always brought her family back to her hometown of Parkes, just as it did with her in 1973 when she began teaching at Parkes Public School until 1975.

She took time off to start a family of her own with husband Peter and in 1980 her connection to Parkes East Public began as a parent.

She then joined the school's staff as a casual teacher in 1985, also teaching at various other schools such as Peak Hill Central and art at Parkes High School.

Mrs Massey worked part-time three days a week at Parkes East by 1989 when Bill Cox was principal and was a full-time teacher by 1992.

"I have been here ever since," she said.

"All the children here hold a very special place in my heart."

Mrs Massey has also been the school's dance tutor, hockey coach, tennis manager and photographer - just some of the many hats she's worn over the years.

She's been involved in art projects around the school, including making the giant mosaic mural for the school's 50th anniversary in 2012 that takes pride of place on the front wall facing Thornbury Street.

That moment and the big celebrations were a major highlight for her.

It took her four months to make the mural.

"I stopped counting after 500 hours... It was tough," Mrs Massey said.

HIGHLIGHT: Maureen Massey made the giant mosaic mural for the school's 50th anniversary in 2012 that takes pride of place on the front wall facing Thornbury Street. Photo: Submitted

HIGHLIGHT: Maureen Massey made the giant mosaic mural for the school's 50th anniversary in 2012 that takes pride of place on the front wall facing Thornbury Street. Photo: Submitted

She's also planned the mini Relay for Life, about five of them, a prelude event to the town's own Cancer Council fundraiser every two years.

A cancer survivor herself, the cause is very close to her heart and she's helped to raise thousands of dollars to support cancer patients and their families.

"The mini Relay was huge, it was a lot of work - we had raffles and competitions and we raised about $4000 every time," Mrs Massey said.

"That had a lot of impact on me because of my history."

Mrs Massey took the opportunity on Thursday to present the school a special gift during assembly, a little project she finished 12 months ago.

She called upon school captains Jaylin Moran and Lillian Gosper to unwrap it - and to the delight, and squeals, of younger onlookers, they revealed a beautiful mosaic school welcome sign, complete with the school mascot.

"I'm going to miss the kids and the camaraderie," she said.

"It just brings you so much joy.

"I've seen a lot of changes - like the school getting the hall and the library, then the undercover way.

"I have a lot of beautiful memories, it's a massive part of your life.

"You go above and beyond so the kids don't miss out.

"If we can play some part in their lives, that's what it's all about."

Principal Michael Ostler said Mrs Massey has made an incredible contribution to Parkes East as a parent and teacher for more than 40 years.

"Her passion for the students and the school has been evident for all to see," he said.

"A most enthusiastic teacher of dance, art and craft, hockey and tennis, Maureen has always made time to help children.

"As the Learning and Support Teacher, Maureen has made an enormous difference to the lives of countless students.

"She will be sorely missed."

Mrs Massey wanted to thank husband of nearly 50 years, Peter, her biggest supporter in all aspects of her life.

She said she will be "chilling for a while" now that she's retired.

"We want to do a little bit of travelling in the caravan," she said.

"I want to catch up with people I haven't seen for a long time - I'm looking forward to the flexibility of going somewhere when I want to.

"And of course I'll still be playing hockey! I have state trials coming up in Newcastle."