STAFF and pupils have bid an emotional farewell to their headteacher after four decades as the “driving force” at their school.
Margaret Coughlin, from Houghton, has dedicated her working life to teaching, beginning her career at 21.
But the 61-year-old has now retired from Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, in Shotton Colliery, after 40 years.
“I’ll miss everyone here,” she said. “The staff, children and parents. They have all been fantastic.”
Starting as a newly-qualified teacher in 1971, Ms Coughlin became headteacher in 1988 after a spell as deputy.
“After spending so much time at the school, it’s going to take a while to adjust to retirement,” she said.
Ms Coughlin said she plans to spend more time with her family, as well as in the garden.
“I’ve loved my time at the school,” she said. “I hope the next 40 years are as good as the last 40.”
Acting headteacher Lisa Ashton described her as a “special person” who will be greatly missed.
“Ms Coughlin has been a dedicated teacher and headteacher and her strong leadership has successfully seen the school through many changes,” she said.
“She has had a true vocation and has always gone above and beyond her role, seeing the school as her extended family.
“Her time, care and devotion to the children are reflected in the strong relationships she has built up over the years with parents and the wider community,” said Ms Ashton. “This was reflected in the huge turnout for her retirement celebration.”
“People who come into school frequently comment on the special atmosphere to be found there.
“There is no doubt that Ms Coughlin has been the driving force behind this.”