Staff and pupils at The Thompson Primary School have said a fond farewell to principal Joan Lutton, who has retired after 25 years in the job.
A teacher for over 40 years, Mrs Lutton has decided that the time is right for her to step down and move on with the next chapter of her life.
“I’ve done phased retirement for two years and I could go on, but I’ve decided it’s time to retire. You realise that there are things you want to do, and if you don’t do them when you’re fit and healthy then you’ll not get doing them,” she told the Times.
Mrs Lutton attended Belfast High School and studied at Stranmillis College before starting her teaching career as a P2 teacher at Mossley Primary in 1971.
She went on to work in Ballyduff Primary and Mallusk Primary before taking on the role of principal at The Thompson Primary School in September 1990.
Reflecting on her time at the Ballyrobert school, Mrs Lutton said: “It wouldn’t be life if there hadn’t been challenges and there hadn’t been ups and downs. There have been a lot of changes throughout the time I have been teaching - we have had at least three or four curriculums - but overall it has been enjoyable.”
Thanking her colleagues in the Primary Principals’ Association, her teaching and non-teaching staff, governors and parents for their support over the years, she added: “I’m very privileged to have been principal of such a great school for 25 very happy years and I have been very fortunate to have worked with such a brilliant team of teachers and classroom assistants, supportive parents and governors.”
Mrs Lutton, who has three children and six grandchildren, admits that she will miss working with the pupils on a daily basis, the interaction with their parents and “the craic in the staff room.”
“I can’t really take it in at the minute, and it’ll probably not be until September when I’m not coming back that I’ll realise that’s it,” she added.
Looking forward to her retirement, Mrs Lutton is planning to travel with her husband Clifford, including an extended trip to Australia to visit their daughter Susan and her three children.
Meanwhile, Mrs Anne Purdy will serve as acting principal of The Thompson PS until the appointment of a new headteacher, possibly in the next academic year.