21 December 2023

Final whistle for Blue Toon fan and Ellon Academy teacher of almost 50 years

After almost five decades in the profession at Ellon Academy, guidance teacher May Watt is retiring.

The 71-year-old’s role at the Kellie Pearl Way school is to provide personal, curricular and vocational guidance to pupils in Sinclair House.

A Peterhead resident, she started her own school life at Central School and Peterhead Academy. With a love of languages, having gone on to study for a degree in Aberdeen, May admits to drifting into the teaching profession.

She said: “It was the kind of job that, at the time, if you did languages, you became a languages teacher – so I did.

"I was out on teaching practice in Ellon and there was a job advertised, and not knowing the procedures for a probationer teacher, I decided to apply for it and got it.”

Starting her career at Ellon as a modern languages teacher, May did senior teaching before moving into guidance. 

“I enjoyed the interaction with the pupils and, whilst I enjoyed languages, my priority was always the welfare of the children,” she said, adding: “I really enjoyed working across a much broader aspect than just teaching them a specific subject – looking at learners in a more holistic way.”

Teaching has changed considerably since 1974 when May first started - the year of the Bay City Rollers, Mud and Slade - and young people have changed too.

She said: “The different influences in society have changed, and so young people change too, but at the heart of it, children still have the same issues and problems to overcome.

“Teaching is a very rewarding job and I get a lot of satisfaction from it - especially seeing the pupils thrive.”

Ellon Academy headteacher Pauline Buchan said the school will not be the same without May.

She said: “I cannot imagine coming back in January and May not being here. She’s going to be missed by everyone. 

“She knows her pupils so well and she’s meticulous in her record keeping and we’ll miss her attention to detail and her genuine care for people.”

With her final day today (Thursday), the Blue Toon supporter has a packed calendar of plans for retirement: “I already support Peterhead FC on a regular basis - I go to all the home games and the away games if it’s nae too far on the supporter’s bus, so I’ll certainly be doing that.

“My calendar is filling up very quickly; I’m a very sociable person and I’m looking forward to spending time with family and friends. 

“I’m feeling a bit guilty because I’m very excited about retirement, but I’ll really miss the interaction and contact with my colleagues and the young people.”

Since word got out of her retirement, the messages from pupils and the parents have been flooding in.

May added: “I received a lovely card from three girls in fifth year who said I would never retire because even though I wasn’t coming to school, I would continue to inspire people wherever I was, and I just thought that kind of response, it makes it all worthwhile.”