Nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety – that’s the number of children Lyndell Robertson has taught in her 33 years at Elermore Vale Public School.
That is, of course, if the school’s Year 6 captains have their maths correct.
But, the exact figures didn’t seem to matter on Wednesday afternoon when the popular teacher said farewell to her beloved students.
This was a celebration spoken in Mrs Robertson’s favourite language – music.
And, her much-loved instrument, the ukelele, became the star of the show as the teacher said goodbye to the Newcastle school that has been her second home for more than three decades.
As gifts were presented to her at her final school assembly, more than 100 students, aged from five to 13, sung in unisome some of her favourite tunes.
Ms Robertson has been a constant at the Jubilee Road school since she started there in 1990.
“It was the year the number one song in Australia was Nothing Compares to You – somewhat appropriate,” said school captain Harivansh Shah.
During her time, the passionate mentor established the School Band, the Bucket Band (percussion), Junior and Senior Choirs, Year 6 Voca Ensemble and Ukelele Ensemble.
She produced Creative and Performing Arts evenings, school concerts and musicals, and Carols by Candlelight.
“Her energy for sharing her passion has only been matched by her wonderful temperament and patience in ensuring every student benefits as much as possible from all the benefits of learning music,” said principal Luke Somerville.
“Music develops so many skills like listening, sharing, language and maths, it has a great knock-on effect through the rest of the curriculum.
“We have been truly fortunate to have somone of Lyndell’s musical and teaching ability to foster those skills in our students for so many years.”
To celebrate the occasion, the school’s P&C presented Ms Robertson with a bouquet of flowers and some heartfelt words.
The captains were quick to point out that the presenting parents were also once students of the popular teacher.
“This is a bittersweet moment for all of us,” said Mr Somerville.
“We’re sad that such an amazing person in our lives is finishing here at Elermore Vale Public School, but we also get to celebrate all of the beautiful memories of Mr Robertson.”
What followed was a succession of songs that eventually had all those gathered in the school hall singing and clapping along with.
“It’s the little things that Ms Robertson does, the little comments, making sure that we’re okay, the little verses of songs. I know that any time I ever walked past her classroom there was no chance of me getting by without either singing, playing an instrument or playing with finger puppets,” recalled Mr Somerville.
“She just has an uncanny ability to make you feel good about yourself in everything that you do.
“Thirty-three years in one school is amazing, but as well as that she’s an incredible human being.”
Reflecting on her time at the primary school, Mrs Robertson says the secret to longevity in the industry is passion.
“You need to enjoy your job,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.
“I love working with children and I love music, so to combine the two and to watch the rewards children have on their performances, whether in the classroom or a concert or at an assembly, that’s where the rewards are for me, and for them, that’s where they feel better about themselves and that makes me happy.”
For her final assembly, the students at Elermore Vale Public School performed a ‘clap-out’ cheering the popular teacher from the school hall to the classrooms.
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