FOR 40 years, Pat Hoefer has been an institution among staff at Lynwood Senior High School.
No mean feat at a school that has only been established for 42 years; but retiring the tea lady has been a constant for the staff – seeing through seven principals, hundreds of nervous first year teachers and greeting the students with a smile from behind the canteen counter.
Mrs Hoefer became a volunteer at the school when her eldest son David started high school in 1976, helping at the canteen and about the school before accepting the tea lady job.
Mrs Hoefer is among the last tea ladies in WA, the job – which requires tea makers to brew and pour tea, provide morning tea and other services to staff – no longer exists in most schools.
When the final bell rang on the 2016 school year, it sounded the end of Mrs Hoefer’s time as tea lady, a job no longer part of wider education establishments in WA.
“I am going to miss it so much,” Mrs Hoefer said.
“The staff are like family, and I am happy here.”
However, according to Mrs Hoefer it was time to pour her last cup of tea to spend more time with her beloved husband Otto and her grandchildren.
“There aren’t big plans for retirement, we’re headed to Busselton after Christmas but I am looking forward to spending more time with my husband,” she said.
Teacher Association presidents Giovanna Vuori and Gaye Homer said Mrs Hoefer would be greatly missed among staff.
“She’s heard all our whinging, she’s shared our euphoria and she is considerate of everyone,” Mrs Vuori said.
“She’s one of the last tea lady’s in the department and she’s an institution in her own right, she is irreplaceable.”
Mrs Hoefer was emotionally farewelled by canteen staff and teaching staff throughout her final week.
“I will come back to say hello, I am so sad to be leaving,” she said.