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St Bart’s teacher retiring after 44 years of service

A teacher is retiring after more than 40 years at St Bart’s School in Newbury.

Linda Eastman was first offered a job at St Bart’s while visiting the school on teacher training, then aged 21.

Linda Eastman celebrates more than 40 years at St Bart's School with her pupils
Linda Eastman celebrates more than 40 years at St Bart's School with her pupils

“It was literally a one-second decision,” she told newburytoday.

But Mrs Eastman, who is now 64 and lives outside Andover, decided it is time to hang up her apron after nearly 44 years as a food technology teacher.

She remembers serving Margaret Thatcher chocolate cake in 1985, and says the former Prime Minister told her the only cooking she did was boiled egg on toast for her and her husband on a Sunday night.

Mrs Eastman has worked under six headteachers and seen generations of students pass through her classroom – including chair of Cancer Research UK Lord Simon Stevens. Her two sons also studied at St Bart’s.

And she even helped design the room she teaches in.

She was flown with other staff and pupils to a factory north of Edinburgh to input on the customised counters and fittings being developed for her classroom.

Mrs Eastman, affectionately known for her loud laugh – even on the first day of term – spoke more about her decision to retire.

“Retiring was another split-second decision,” she said. “But I decided I would finish the academic year.”

And what was it about working at St Bart’s which convinced her to stay all these years?

“I’ve always been able to progress my career.

“After one year, I was made second in department. After another three years, I was made head of department.

“And then when I went part-time to have my children, they let me remain as head of department for two-and-a-half days a week. They wanted to help me do that.”

Mrs Eastman was made head of faculty one year after returning to full-time employment.

But she says it was her colleagues and pupils which she enjoyed most about her role.

“I’ve always worked with brilliant people, and it’s your colleagues that sustain you and you can laugh with,” she said.

“I don’t think you go into teaching unless you’re innately a kind person.

“The one thing about teaching is that you are never bored. Each class is totally different.

“You can visibly see pupil progress within a two-hour lesson.

“We can stretch and challenge and support less able children, but they all achieve.

“We’re not just telling the children to ‘cook this recipe’; there is so much being taught about organisation, numeracy, literacy, history and geography.”

But one thing she won’t miss is marking coursework during the Easter holidays.

Mrs Eastman was one of three names mentioned at the school’s Founder’s Day assembly last week as exemplifying social commitment and dedicated service to the school.

Her last day is on July 25.

“I think it’s time to move on with my life,” she added.

Mrs Eastman plans to spend her retirement taking up golf, walking and, of course, cooking, having recently been exposed to Indonesian cuisine through her daughter-in-law.

Thank you, Linda.

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