“It’s never too late to learn or experience something new”

Date: 07/03/2024

This International Women’s Day retired teacher shares how her career teaching the next generation came as an opportunity she almost passed on later in life.

Lime Tree Court resident Collette met her husband when she was 18 and have been together for over 45 years. They had four children who Collette raised while her husband went off to work to support them.

After her children grew up and flew the nest, Collette felt a longing to revisit her dream of becoming a teacher.

This International Women’s Day she shares her inspiring story about how she went back into education as a mature student to turn her dreams into reality.  

“It was so scary going back into education after such a long time, and as a mature student surrounded by youngsters,” said Collette.

“It wasn’t an easy decision. I had to complete an access course before going back to university, and I could have easily given up at the first hurdle thinking it would be a challenge.

“Thankfully with the full support of my husband, who came out of retirement to support my journey, I was able to fulfil my lifelong dream of becoming a teacher.

 “I went to college to complete the access course and then went to university to complete my teaching degree.

“It was so surreal, and I became the mum to the rest of the students in my classes. It will forever be an experience I will treasure.”

As part of her teaching degree, Collette had the opportunity to study in Finland.

“Teaching children in Finland was a whole other opportunity again”, explained Collette.

“For someone who’d never travelled further than Ireland, going to Finland massively opened my horizons. I saw different cultures and how they lived, and I was fascinated.

“Finish schools were amazing, and the kids truly valued their education. They would attend every day despite snow and access issues.

“They set children up with the skills they needed to live a good life. They were taught practical skills like how to budget and sew. Alongside that, they weren’t pushed into university, there was always another route or option based on someone’s skills or abilities.”

Collette says this experience stayed with her for life. After graduating she shares how she carried these experiences into her own classroom and to her own students too.

“At 51 I graduated from university and was a fully qualified teacher”, said Collette.

“I achieved my dream, but it was the experiences I learnt along the way that really helped shape my career.

“I would make sure my students had practical skills like the Finish children did. I first taught reception and key stage one children, and I made it my mission to teach them how to read, so they could then go on to learn other things using that skill.

“I started in the September and by Christmas, I’d taught all the children to read. It was such an achievement which meant so much to me.

“I loved teaching and went on to do it for many years. I think the reason I loved it so much was knowing that I was making a meaningful difference to people’s lives.”

Collette shares how her actions have also inspired her children to take on opportunities later in life.

“My children are incredibly proud of me”, says Collette.

“They were with me for all the milestones, supporting me every step of the way.

“Like me, one of my daughters had a family young. She left university to do it. Recently she came to me asking for advice on getting back into education to help her do something she loved again.

“I told her, and I will tell anyone, you are never too old to learn or experience something new, so don’t turn down new opportunities no matter how old you are! Making the leap into teaching later in life is honestly one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Collette retired from teaching and came to live at Lime Tree Court after her husband developed Alzheimer’s.

“My husband sadly developed Alzheimer’s and after supporting me for so many years, I decided I would retire from teaching to become his carer,” said Collette.

“It’s been really hard watching my husband, who was an incredibly intelligent man, loose himself to Alzheimer’s. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I feel for anyone who is currently or who has previously been through it.

“I have days where I feel down, but I can’t just give in. Throughout my life I’d like to say that I’ve been resilient after being dealt with a few tough cards. No matter what I’ve been through I’ve always remained grateful for what I have.

“Moving to Lime Tree Court is something I’ll be forever grateful for. Here I’m surrounded by a community of people who support and are there for each other. I regularly bake cakes for my neighbours, and I know they are there for me if I need them.”

Find out more about our homes for over 50s

Google translate Google translate
click to choose
Colour contrast Contrast
Font size Text size