Meet the teacher: Jean

As part of our back-to-school themed activities this September we have been enjoying hearing from our residents who used to be teachers. We sat down for a coffee and chatted with Jean Neilson at The Grove Care Home in Waltham, Lincolnshire. Jean had a long teaching career at a local primary school and even taught some of the care team now working at the care home.

Jean grew up in Streatham, London where she lived until she was eight years old. When war was declared she and her sister Brenda were taken in by an aunt, in Lincoln. They expected London to be bombed but for the first few months nothing happened in London, so they moved back. Unfortunately the bombing did start sot had to go back to Lincoln again. She settled in Lincolnshire and spent much of the rest of her life there.

A passion for correct English

Jean enjoyed school, her favourite subject was English. She remembers her teacher telling the class never to end a sentence with the word ‘with’, so you should never say ‘The girl I went to school with’, instead you should say ‘The girl with whom I went to school’. Using correct grammar was very important at the time, but less so now she believes.

After she finished school Jean went to work at Linsey Council where she worked in an office. When she got married she moved to Woodhall spa and worked in an office there. Jean gave up work to raise her three children but once they got old enough, she decided to take her teaching certificate.

They were very short of teachers in Grimsby, no one wanted to come here!” Explained Jean. “Dr Richardson was the Director of Education at the time and realised there were not enough teachers. He started a training college in a disused primary school. I saw it as a second chance to have a career after having children and took English as my main subject. I was much older than most trainee teachers, but I think you have a different outlook on it once you’ve had your own children.”

Jean went on to become Deputy Head at Old Clee School Primary School where she taught both infants aged 5 -8 and Juniors aged 8 and above.

The children were mostly very well behaved, but I remember once the head came and caned all the children in the class for something they’d done wrong!”

A love of learning 

Jean taught the children all subjects including science. She was very proud that Old Clee Primary was one of the only local schools to have an incubator for duck eggs.

“I went to a farm to collect eggs for the incubator we had to turn them every day which was something the children could get involved with. It was very exciting when the eggs start to hatch, the children loved watching that. There’s something magical about seeing the egg start to move and the beak starts to appear. We did that every year as they enjoyed it so much, it was easy to have ducklings when they were big enough, we took the ducks back to the farm.”

Jean retired aged 60 but carried on as a supply teacher until she was 65. She enjoyed being with the children and doing PE the most, her favourite sport was netball.

It was wonderful to have long school holidays. My aunt had a caravan at Skegness we went for a fortnight every summer. I love the beach at Skegness.”

She has three children and passed her passion for teaching on to her daughter, who also became a teacher.

Jean has lived at The Grove since April 2021 and loves the outlook over the park. From her room at the front of the home, she enjoys looking at the trees and watching them as the season change. For more information about life at The Grove Care Home in Waltham, contact Customer Relations Manager, Ros Wells on 01472 821127 or email


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