Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Monday: 5 days to go…

So! WHAT a day I had yesterday!

Day one of my last week of work.

Today consisted of 2 meetings and the English faculty farewell lunch. The meetings were ok but honestly, pretty pointless for me. The art meeting, which I have to attend because I teach drama, was all about next year. So was the English meeting an hour and a half later. One of the additional jobs was ‘tidy your desk” so when everyone split into year level groups to finalise the lesson plans for next semester, I walked out, telling Sam – the head of the English faculty – that I was tidying my desk as per the list.

Instead, I decided that there was no point in hanging onto these cards. My very good friend Scott first had the idea of ordering ally things from Vistaprint to liven up classes and I’ve continued the tradition since he left the profession almost 10 years ago. I give them out when I hand back their work. Anyone who earns an ‘OUTSTANDING” ( anything between 18 -20/20) gets a round of applause from the class, one of these cards and a hearty handshake from me. 

Anyone who gives me a ‘limp fish’ handshake gets a lesson in how to shake hands properly. Ugh… nothing worse.

At first I walked around to all of the English teachers’ desks and put a card on each. After all, I knew it would be a surprise because everyone else was at the meeting. There was still a stack of cards left, so I grabbed a biro and crossed out the ‘in English’ line and left them on everyone else’s desks until I ran out. Just a bit of fun to finish on.

Then it was back to the English meeting for the lunch, where the 3 people who were leaving were expected to make a speech.

According to the other two women leaving, none of us had given this much thought. I’m a bleeding-edge type of teacher, so I knew I’d come up with something on the spur of the moment. The other teachers who were leaving were immensely popular and were moving on to different schools next year, one to advance her career, the other to be closer to home and her young family.

Sam gave a little speech before each one, then a close friend of the others also said some words. In both cases it was all very emotional and heartfelt, with tears, hugging and phrases such as “loves the kids to bits”, “exceptional teacher” and “full of empathy for everyone” were said.

I determined that my speech would be a bit different. After all, I’m a stranger to the gentler emotions of love and empathy.

Sam gave his speech, talking about how my quirkiness would be missed.Apparently collecting compost materials from the school, showing off quilting and knitting projects and other things like that are things that not everyone does at work. Amazing. Frogdancer loves the students, very professional, blah blah blah.

Then he asked Adrian, the closest thing to a work husband I’ve had since Scott left, to say a few words.

“What?!?” Adrian spluttered. “Geeze Sam, it’d be nice to have some notice!”

“I emailed you this morning!”

Adrian got up, casting an apologetic look my way. “I’m sorry Frogdancer, but this will be from the top of my head,” he said.

He gave a lovely little speech, saying things about how I always come to work expecting to have fun. Fun is starting to leach away from the profession in the last few years, he said, (which I whole-heartedly agree with), but Frogdancer Jones still extracts every drop of fun she can. Loves the students, not so keen on meetings with adults,  blah blah… 

Then Brock got up and said part of the quirkiness I apparently exit is my frugality. Well, let’s be honest, he called me a tightarse, bringing up the months that I used to take the train into work really early in the morning to get a free train ride.

He obviously had no idea that at that stage I was paying over 70% of my take-home wage on bridging finance for The Best House in Melbourne, so literally every penny counted. But that’s ok.

Then it was my turn… at last!

“Well guys, thanks for the lovely things you said but your speeches have made me really sad. Clearly you don’t know me AT ALL!!”

The big laugh showed that I was off to a good start. 

“I don’t love the kids – couldn’t give a rat’s arse about them!” Another laugh… phew. “ I only come to work to socialise and pick up coffee grounds and rotting veggie scraps for the garden!”

Then I went all serious to give some light and shade to this thing that’s coming out of my mouth. (Really should’ve thought about this beforehand.)

I talked about how lucky we all are to be teaching English. We get to know our kids in a way that no other faculty does, though drama comes close. Our lessons cover all sorts of areas so we’re never bored and the kids will make you laugh every single day, if you let them.

Then I looked around the room and said how fortunate I felt to be have spent my career working with such extraordinary people who do their jobs so well. “But if I never see any of you again, hey, that’s ok!!”

Another big laugh. Another internal phew! That joke could’ve gone either way… LOL.

I can’t remember what else I said. My speech was shorter than the others, mainly because I saw some glazed looks starting to appear on people’s faces earlier. Me, I like to make ‘em laugh and leave with them wanting more.

Everyone in the faculty had a choice of bubbly, wine or gin to take. I picked out a bottle of Mother’s Ruin. I’d noticed on Sunday night when I made a G & T that I only had enough gin for one more drink so it came at the perfect time. 

Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again!

The afternoon was free, so I used it to fill in and submit the exit and CRT paperwork. There’s no going back now! I decided to hand in my keys at the same time. I can’t see why I’d need to unlock a classroom with no kids around. 

I also walked down to the canteen and picked up the bin I’d bought to collect the veggie scraps. It’s perfect for a weed/dog poo bin for the back yard. No point buying another one if the original bin I bought wasn’t being used. Now is that frugality or tightarsery at work?

I’m typing this sitting at the hairdresser waiting to get beautified for my official leaving speech on Thursday. It’s one of my days off but there’s no way Frogdancer Jones is giving up the opportunity to perform with all eyes upon her! I live for this stuff.

I have no clear idea of what I’m going to say yet, but no doubt inspiration will strike between then and now. My friend Megan is my designated driver, so watch me have some fun when my speech is over and I can relax! The bowls club is going to ROCK!

Send good vibes for me on Thursday. If inspiration DOESN’T hit I’ll be a nervous wreck. 

I suppose it’ll serve me right, though…


  1. Scott

    Good luck with your speech! It’ll be great. Not long now, then FREEDOM! x

    • FrogdancerJones

      I remember sneaking over and sitting at the admin table with you at your last staff luncheon.
      After I wrote this, I was buying more than 50 gift bags in the $2 shop and I mentioned to the girl behind the register that these were the last work gifts I’d ever be buying, as I was retiring on Friday.
      A guy in the queue behind me said, “Retiring? You’re going to love it – you’ll never look back.”
      It’s nice to hear things like this as I’m trotting towards it.

  2. gofi

    Sending good vibes all the way from Colorado. And Hooray !!

    • FrogdancerJones

      I guess you’d better send those vibes on Wednesday afternoon – seeing as Australia is living in the future. We’re quite a few hours ahead. 🙂

  3. Sandra Gerhardt

    Good on you for making your speech. I’m the teary type so I sent a well thought out email to the whole company as in my job I mixed with all of them. Then a separate email to my own two teams. I got away with a short speech and even then had tears in my eyes. But it was definitely time!!!

    • FrogdancerJones

      I live for the spotlight!
      The other girls had tears when they were doing their farewells – mascara everywhere! Their speeches were very different from mine but of course they were. All 3 speeches fitted the 3 different people that we are. I was so proud of the way they spoke. We did the English (and Drama) faculties proud.
      Well, as someone commented to me, with 3 English teachers doing the speaking – they’d HAVE to be good! LOL.

  4. Kathy Aylward

    Wow it’s finally here…it sounds like it would be awesome to be in your English class and your speech, loved the bits you shared. Loved that they think you have something else to show the kids with your quilts, knitting and simple living. All the best for your final week. Kathy, Brisbane, Australia

    • FrogdancerJones

      Thanks Kathy. I’m replying to this on Saturday morning, sitting on the couch in the morning with the dogs around me.
      The next chapter has begun!

  5. Pipistrello

    Hello, I don’t think I’ve spoken out yet from the audience ? How thrilling to have those last calendar pages of your full-time coalface life ripping off before our eyes, like a 30s B&W film. What a delightful send-off from the English department, but of course a special mention must go to the fortuitous gifting of Mother’s Ruin, ticking both the wants and needs boxes just in the nick of time!

    • FrogdancerJones

      How could I ever endure these hot summer days without a G & T in hand at 5PM? Thank God the gin arrived in the nick of time!!

  6. Ali

    Sending party vibes and best wishes for your last work days.
    Congratulations Frogdancer for reaching your goals and living your dreams. Have fun!

    • FrogdancerJones

      I had a lovely week. It was a great way to bow out from this chapter.

  7. Jamie

    Can you tell me more about your dog poo bin? Is it like a compost bin? Or a worm farm?

    Our local council goes a good green waste pick up, but I think they prefer no poo because of the possibility of working treatments or medications coming through.

    • FrogdancerJones

      I actually use the little green waste bin given to us by the council, lined with a plastic bag, that I tip the dog poo into every time I pick it up with the scooper.
      We then tie a knot in the top of the bag when it gets full and put it in the bin with our regular rubbish.
      I tried using an in-ground worm farm, but the poo built up quicker than the worms could devour it.
      (Plus I felt a bit sorry for the poor little things!)

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