For most teachers, meeting former pupils around the island is something that happens occasionally, but for St Ninian’s teacher Doreen Dale it happens all the time.
When 58-year-old Mrs Dale retired yesterday (Friday) it marked the end of a 38-year teaching career in the island during which she has taught current pupils’ parents – and occasionally even their grand parents!
‘It’s actually just over 38 years,’ Mrs Dale said.
‘I started in 1976 at Ballakermeen, then had a spell at Ramsey then came to St Ninians in the early 1980s – where I’ve been ever since. I do know a lot of people. I went into a shop recently and was chatting to the people in there and it turned out I had taught nearly all of them!’
Head of lower school Rob Cowley described Mrs Dale as ‘an institution’.
‘She is just an encyclopaedia of families in the Isle of Man. I wish I could download the contents of her brain before she goes. She will be a great loss to the school,’ he added.
As head of Year Seven, Mrs Dale is involved in the pastoral care of the children, and she also liaises with feeder schools and Year Six teachers as well as teaching geography.
She attended school in Huyton, near Liverpool, and moved to the island with her family in 1969, leaving to attend college in Cheltenham, then returning to teach. ‘I was never going to leave the Isle of Man,’ she said.
‘The children are nice, you make friends and it just feels right.’
There have been many changes over the years. When she first started in the 1970s, for example, the cane was still in use. Now the most noticeable difference is the prevalence of social media.
She explained: ‘If children have smartphones, we sometimes actually encourage them to bring them in and we allow them to use them – not to make phone calls, of course – but to access the internet and complement their learning.’
Despite retiring, Mrs Dale, who lives in Onchan, just a short distance from the school, won’t be letting go entirely.
‘I’ll probably go back from time to time to do a bit of supply work so I can keep in contact with everyone,’ she said. ‘It doesn’t feel like 38 years. It feels more like yesterday.’
She and husband Tony don’t expect to find any trouble filling her new-found leisure time: ‘We would like to travel – we have a skiing trip planned for next year – and also do some touring on our Honda Goldwing.
‘Also our daughter does national carriage driving competitions so we hope to follow her to spectate at some events.’