Retirement is beckoning for Mrs Evans, who is getting ready for a well-deserved rest after more than a quarter of a century in the classroom at Moseley Park.
The popular teacher joined the school in January 1991, following a chance remark by her son – who was head boy – that there was a vacancy for someone to lead the Business department. Mrs Evans, who was then working at Dudley College, decided to apply and the rest, as they say, is history.
She said: “The school had just gone grant-maintained – it had been a bit of a controversial move and a lot of the staff had gone. At that time my son was head boy here. They hadn’t got a Business department – it had ceased to exist when everyone left – and my son told me they were advertising for a head of Business. I decided to apply because it was only five minutes from home and a promotion to run a department. And here I am 26 years later.
And Mrs Evans, who has been the NUT union rep for 20 years, soon proved her top-notch negotiating skills. She said: “At first there were no business classes on the timetable – so I started off teaching GCSE Accounts and keyboarding. The problem was that because of the change to grant-maintained status, there weren’t any computers for the students to use. So we actually had to draw out a keyboard on a piece of paper for them to practise how to touch-type! It sounds funny now, but the students got very fed up – so I asked Mr Smith, who was the headteacher, to come to speak to them. I’d helped them plan what to say and they showed him how they were learning keyboarding and very much made their point. Within a month we had computers and that was the start of the hi-tech office. It was in the old C-block in what is now Y106. Students would man the office as receptionists. We also ran the school bank at lunchtimes. It was all very hands-on.”
More innovations followed, with students taking part not only in Young Enterprise, but also in the international version – Practica. Mrs Evans continued: “Bilston and Battersea Enamels loaned us their products and we marketed them all over Europe – including travelling to Germany and the Netherlands. It was a really good experience.”
Schools alter a lot in 26 years and Mrs Evans has certainly seen a lot of changes in her time at Moseley Park. She said: “I remember when I first started here, I was teaching in mobile classrooms at the back because the school was too full. I spent a lot of time lugging books back and forth! It wasn’t long before I started the new Business department here though – and it just grew and grew. It was mainly sixth form then because it was a full time course and the only thing they would study all week. I was also the person who helped Moseley Park obtain approval to run BTEC courses. Previously it was mainly just a college thing – but because I’d working in colleges I knew what I was doing and so I trained staff from a lot of different areas and wrote the submission. I was also a school governor for eight years, working to get the school out of special measures.”
Although the bulk of her teaching has already ended, Mrs Evans will be gently easing herself into retirement by finishing off with her A-level Law class – teaching two half-day lessons a week until they leave in the summer. Then she is looking forward to being able to tackle the challenge of her garden and travelling around the UK in her caravan. She added: “I will probably decorate the whole of the house too and my dogs will be having many more – and longer – walks than they are currently used to!”
Looking back, Mrs Evans said it was making a difference to students and other staff that had been the highlight of her career. She added: “I’m proudest of being able to help students and see what they achieve. I’ve had a lot of Law students who have gone on to be barristers and solicitors – one is a barrister in European Law in London and it’s nice to think I started her on that path. I’ve had a lot of others who’ve gone into accounting and become chartered accountants. It’s why you do the job – the success of your students is the real highlight. I’ve also enjoyed mentoring trainee teachers – I even mentored Mr Collins many years ago when he started as a newly-qualified teacher! I mentored Mr Hazlewood too. I’m handing over the Business department to a very good team. I’m proud of the school, proud of the students and proud of my colleagues. I was born and bred in Bilston and it’s been brilliant to work in the heart of my community for all these years.”