Jan Dempsey's last few days of teaching have dished up one surprise after another.
After 35 years in the classroom - and it would have been longer if it weren't for raising three of her own children - Mrs Dempsey is looking forward to getting into her garden.
Highlands Intermediate staff have been keeping her guessing with surprise morning teas and arranging an interview with the Taranaki Daily News that she knew nothing about.
Mrs Dempsey has had two stints at Highlands totalling 21 years and spent 14 years in other schools.
All up she has worked at 14 different schools throughout the country but set up home in Taranaki in 1974 after meeting her husband, John Dempsey, overseas.
"I took eight years off teaching because I had three children quite closely together," she said.
Retirement will involve tripping around the world catching up with family, including a grandchild and another two on the way.
"New Plymouth will remain my home, especially because I'm involved with a lot of organisations here."
Mrs Dempsey said her great fear is finding herself lonely at home after her husband died suddenly five years ago.
"The school was such a massive support during that time."
But she is determined to stay busy, and time spent in the garden and a bit of relief teaching now and then should keep her occupied.
"I'm 65 and tired, and the time had come to do things for myself so retirement makes sense."
She said she will miss the children and her colleagues but is happy to turn her back on lots of assessments and nights working at home.
"I think a lot of people don't realise how much work teachers do at home. I can't wait to have my evenings to myself," she said.
The year 7 teacher said there would not be too many tears over the next two days - she was more worried about how many other surprises there would be.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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