Besties take time out

Denise Barron, left, is retiring from Montagues Gift Primary School together with her friend Denise King, right, who is taking early retirement.

They called them the “terrible twins” because they were always as thick as thieves and started teaching at the same time at Montague’s Gift Primary School, in Grassy Park.

Now they are going to retire at the end of this term, side by side.

They have many other things in common such as they are both called Denise and they both love to travel.

Denise Barron who is at the retiring age and Denise King, who is going on early retirement, spoke to Southern Mail about their journey in education.

Ms Barron, Grade 4 teacher, started teaching at Montagu’s Gift in 1981.

“I have been in the education profession for 43 years in total,” she said.

The Plumstead resident said it was time for her to put down the teacher’s rod. “It was my choice to retire because I want to spend more time with my five grandchildren.”

Ms Barron said her fondest memories throughout her career were to see how some children from disadvantaged backgrounds excelled. “They did well, under challenging circumstances.”

She said some children turned out well and she knows of doctors and lawyers who had been in her class. “The biggest challenge was discipline. Many children were raised by their grannies who had a tough time helping them with homework.”

Ms King, a Grade 2 teacher, said she and Ms Barron were good friends since they started teaching at Montague’s Gift, on the same day 34 years ago.

“I remember we had been to the interview on the same day and we have been standing together since then.”

Ms King grew up in Grassy Park and when she got married she moved to Ottery. “I am also going to spend time with my three grandchildren,” she said.

She too always had a passion for teaching. “I remember as a young girl I would stand in our garden talking to the flowers. The dahlias were my kids and if one of the flowers’ heads drooped, I would demand it to look up and listen,” she chuckled.

Montague’s Gift was the first school Ms King taught at and she ended her career there as well. “We will be back to help the school with their library as it is very important to keep children reading.”

Principal Reginald Gabriel said Ms Barron and Ms King were “exemplary role models”

He said Ms Barron is passionate and committed to education. “She is well respected and we will miss her.”

Cut from the same cloth, Ms King is “also a great role model and very efficient, and she had a great understanding for education.”