Ann Truesdale is taking early retirement at the age of 59 and
leaving behind what she has described as `her second family' the
staff, children and parents of the nursery unit.
But she will be leaving on a high note. Because, just last week the minister Angela Smith, announced 52 full time posts for the school.
Ann, a widower from Hillsborough has been Principal with Barbour Nursery Unit since November 1970.
Educated at Wallace High School she took a reaching certificate in nursery and primary education at Stranmillis College. Site underwent work experience at Arellian Nursery Unit on the Donegall Road in Belfast prior to her college training where she later worked full time for three years.
She became Principal at Barbour Nursery when it was at the Pavilion in a mobile unit before luxury two unit premises were built at Ashmount Gardens in 1995.
An extra teacher and five assistants also came on board. The new unit provided an ancillary area, two classrooms, storage space as well as indoor and outdoor play facilities.
Three classes were introduced, with one in the morning, another in the afternoon and a daily full time class. During her 35 years as principal Ann has seen many changes.
" I have noticed marry changes including the structures in society, the structures in families and changes in expectations both with the parents and Department of Education," she said
"There had been a scarcity of nursery places and then five years ago when the government engaged in expanding pre school education that resulted in over provision in many areas.
"We have been under subscribed which has meant increasing under aged children. As a result thanks to negotiations from local politicians and the minister an announcement was made this week of 52 full times places in the nursery which is a great retirement present for me."
Ann paid tribute to the children she has taught and the staff she has worked with.
"They have all been marvellous," she said. "They have made my job what it is. The first fives years of a child's life are the most important and it was always our aim to help and see that child develop in those years.
"The good thing about teaching nursery school children is how adaptable they can be, you can explore new ideas and topics with them.
"I have seen children come in. Sometimes they come here and they don't like vegetables but by the time they leave at the end of the year they love vegetables and sometimes even look for second helpings."
When Mrs Truesdale, a mother of two, retires it will be emotional time for her.
"But at the end of every year it is always very emotional," she said. "I see the children as my second family. I get to know them throughout the year and then they leave. So this year will be just as emotional. But I have not had time to really think about it. I suppose being congratulated by people is making it a reality.
"I will dearly miss the children but will miss the staff too. It has been a rewarding job and was always reassuring to see that children I taught are now sending their children back to the same school.
"My one regret, if any, is that I did not jot down all the experiences and the little things that children have said to me." "Nursery age has always been a good age to teach. They are very accepting and have a great curiosity which they lose in later years, at some degree."
Mrs Truesdale said that one thing that she will be looking forward to when she leaves is being able to take holidays when she wanted.
"It may seem strange but I will be looking forward to having my holidays outside the July and August times," she said.
Mrs Truesdale plans to take it easy with a holiday planned and also wants to take an active part in charity work as well as spending time to take part in her favourite pastime - walking.
"It will be strange to leave as this has been my life for three decades and a big part of my life," she said. "I will miss the nursery but I plan to live the rest of my life to the full and want to see parts of the world that I have not seen yet. I did not want to look back and think that I did not achieve something because I was still working.
"I have been very privileged to have worked with members of staff who have been always very supportive and committed.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the children who have made my job a lot of fun and very special. I would also like to thank parents who have been wonderful. It has been a hard but enjoyable and fulfilling job."
Ulster Star 01/07/05