A teacher whose laughter and love of music have been part of school life in Eastbourne for 40 years has retired.
Shirley Barrell, 61, who has been deputy head at Pashley Down Infants for 10 of those years, was given a suitably tuneful send-off after being herded onto the school stage by a gaggle of tiny pirates on Thursday.
The children had been performing in her final musical extravaganza, Pashley Pirates.
Having taught in Parklands Juniors and St John’s Meads Primary since she started teaching in 1975, Mrs Barrell has blessed two generations of Eastbourne children with her humour and skill.
Pashley headteacher Jennifer Cruse said: “If I had to choose two words to describe Mrs Barrell they would be ‘happy’ and ‘enthusiastic’ – and this is echoed in her classroom. Wherever Mrs Barrell teaches, in her own classroom or around the school, a buzz of excitement and laughter are sure to follow.”
Mrs Barrell, who has three children and four grandchildren – with two more on the way – has big plans for her retirement; intent on learning to play the organ, start a new choir and “go to all those places I’ve wanted to go to outside the school holidays”.
Regarding her time as a teacher, she added: “I’ve just enjoyed it all really. Music is the thing I always do and I thoroughly enjoy sharing that with the children. I just think music brings everyone together. It’s a great equaliser. There are children who are sometimes shy or not academic and it brings them out of there shell.”
Describing Mrs Barrell’s retirement as a “massive loss”, Ms Cruse said: “My right-hand woman is leaving and she has been the heart and soul of the school. I couldn’t have had a better deputy. The school has gone from strength to strength under her leadership.”
When asked if she planned to ever return to teaching, Mrs Barrell said: “I’m just going to take my time until Christmas. You can’t rule anything out.”
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