Decades of teaching home truths

Teacher Anne Smith is retiring from Westleigh High School after 37 years
Teacher Anne Smith is retiring from Westleigh High School after 37 years

A POPULAR teacher is putting down her marker pen after spending almost four decades in the classroom at one school.

Humanities teacher Anne Smith has proved the truth of the old saying about home being where the heart is after spending her entire 37-year career in education at Westleigh High School.

Mrs Smith, who is also from Leigh herself, has devoted her working life to passing on her knowledge to generations of Leythers, saying she believes she has taught three generations of some families.

She is stepping down from her post in the classroom and says she plans to get involved with efforts to help people suffering from dementia after seeing her mum Mary Gregory battle the horrendous memory-loss condition.

Mrs Smith said: “Westleigh was my first job and I’ve stayed ever since. I’ve never felt the need to move on, I had a choice of three schools and this one just felt right.

“It’s just been a pleasure to teach here. The kids have always been so friendly and the staff have been wonderful, it’s been like a family.

“Teaching in my hometown has been an honour and with living in Leigh I see a lot of my old pupils around. I often get people coming back at parents evenings who I taught and I think some of my pupils are now grandmas and grandads.

“I’m looking forward to retirement, though obviously I’m leaving with a heavy heart. I think I’m going to try something new for a few years and I want to be involved with helping older people with dementia. It’s also made me realise I want to spend more time with my mum.”

Mrs Smith became head of the Westleigh Lane school’s religious studies department within a couple of years of her arrival, a post she has held ever since, and also taught geography.

She will leave the classroom for the final time at the end of the summer term and admits her last lessons may be quite emotional.

Her colleagues at Westleigh High School also offered warm messages of support for her retirement.

Westleigh High headteacher John Banks praised her contribution to schoollife.

He said: “Many hundreds of students have benefitted from being taught by Anne over her lifetime dedicated to teaching and learning.

“I am extremely grateful that Anne is at last going to enjoy her time with her family and friends during a well-earned retirement.

“All the staff at Westleigh High School, the governors and students wish Anne all the very best and hopes that she keeps in touch with us all.”