From Roma to the city, the final whistle blows for Mr Jessop
BELOVED physical education teacher Keith Jessop is hanging up his soccer boots after 40 years of teaching.
It will be the end of an era as the Sunnybank Hills State School educator, who has been at the school for 34 years, retires at the end of this term.
Mr Jessop says he has known about 15,000 students during his career which also included time in Roma and part-time work at schools in Salisbury, Coopers Plains, Kuraby and Calamvale.
The 62-year-old still hopes to get the odd day or two relief work at the school but is looking forward to taking up golf, doing some travelling, babysitting his grandchildren and enjoying life in his new apartment in Tennyson with his wife Deb.
"It has been my life," he said of living and working in Sunnybank Hills.
"It has been a great school - I have seen most of the school develop over the years … the school turned 40 this year.
"We have committed teachers and the students have been great.
"I got to see my two children Nicole (born in 1986) and Michael (born in 1989) go through school."
When Mr Jessop started at Sunnybank Hills SS in 1985 there were 550 students and about 27 teachers and in 2020 there will be 1450 students and 58 teachers.
"It reminds me that you are getting older when the younger ones (teachers) are coming through," he laughed.
"There are still a few (teachers) my age that are hanging in there."
For the past couple of years Mr Jessop has been part-time and while his retirement is bittersweet he reckons he is "taking it pretty well".
On top of teaching PE, Mr Jessop was also the conveyor for the Sunnybank district soccer competition for 30 years which involved more than 60 local schools.
"Watching their abilities and skills improve over the years and helping them reach their potential was a great feeling," Mr Jessop, who has loved soccer since he was 11, said.
" (Sunnybank Hills SS) has been a very strong soccer school.
"The most satisfaction I got was seeing them (students) get to a district, regional or state level."
When Mr Jessop thinks back on his teaching years a few key moments stick in his mind including how he'd spent about four years sleeping in a tent when he took students away on school camping trips across southeast Queensland from Carnarvon Gorge and Springbrook to Moreton Island and Stradbroke Island.
"I probably went to 10 different locations," he said.
His other fond memories include taking five teams to the southeast Queensland soccer championships and helping fundraise to get the sports hall.
Mr Jessop wants to thank principal Geoff Mill, the administration staff and his fellow teachers for their love and support over the years.
"Teaching is a job you can't do by yourself," he said.
"Geoff is very motivated, loves doing what he's doing and inspires all the staff - he is a good mentor to the younger staff."
Mr Jessop's peers say he is a "legend of the school and district" when it comes to sport.
He is the "backbone of this school" and he is "the history of Sunnybank Hills State School", according to staff members.
Sunnybank Hills State School principal Geoff Mill said Mr Jessop had been an "integral member" of the school's staff during the past 35 years.
"During that time he has built a reputation as a highly valued physical education specialist teacher," he said.
"But Keith has provided so much more than that to the life of our school. His support and care of children and their families, along with his colleagues has left a powerful impact upon the lives of so many.
"Keith is respected and loved within our school community. He was always there to help others, whether it was personalised coaching for a child, or arranging extra team training sessions, to driving children to sporting trials so they didn't miss out on an opportunity.
"Across the school, if there was ever a working bee or a barbecue to cook, Keith was always there to lend a hand."
Mr Mill said within the larger educational setting, Mr Jessop had played an important role in the District Sporting Association.
"Over the many years he has willingly taken on roles in management and coaching to ensure children had a rich sporting experience," he said.
"We all wish Keith a well-deserved, happy and long retirement."
A farewell afternoon tea will held for Mr Jessop at Runcorn Tavern.