Monday, 25 September 2017

School’s Jewel has been an absolute gem

A TEACHER at Robert Piggott Infant School in Wargrave has retired after 18 years.

A TEACHER at Robert Piggott Infant School in Wargrave has retired after 18 years.

Jewel Simpson, 59, bid goodbye to staff and pupils at a special assembly and said she would miss them.

She said: “It doesn’t feel real to me at all because we’ve all been getting ready for the summer holidays anyway. It’s just strange that I won’t be coming back in September.”

She plans to return to the school as a supply teacher and said: “I feel as if it’s not retirement, just changing my terms and conditions, certainly to start with.”

Mrs Simpson, of Braybrook Road, Wargrave, said she had wanted to be a teacher since she was a child.

The mother-of-three said: “My Sunday school teacher once knocked at my house and said to my mum, ‘make sure she becomes a teacher’. She must have seen I had the gift and I used to do some teaching at the Sunday school.

“I was determined that was what I wanted to do and I did it.”

She worked in Leicestershire and Hertfordshire before joining the infant school in Beverley Gardens in 1995. She had two stints as acting headteacher.

Mrs Simpson, who specialises in art and religious education, said one of her proudest moments was the work that pupils produced for this year’s Wargrave Festival.

She said: “We did a project between the infant and junior schools where we produced our own Lowry-style work.

“We do a lot of art projects and it is always a proud moment when you get to the end and achieve something together that you set out to.”

Mrs Simpson said she would miss working with the children and staff.

“It’s a real family school,” she said. “It has got a strong Christian ethos and it’s very family-orientated and caring, not just towards the children but the adults support each other as well. We’re a big family.

“I will miss all these things and working as part of a team. It’s that team that pulls you through.”

Mrs Simpson said the improved relationship between the infant and junior schools over the past two years had provided more continuity for the pupils. It also meant she could follow their progress after they left the infant school aged seven.

She said: “It’s quite thrilling to see them grow up into the finished article and the children I first taught will now be 22.”

To mark her retirement, Mrs Simpson and the other staff visited the Great House at Sonning for cream teas.

Now she will use her spare time to develop her artwork and spend more time with her husband, Phil, 57, who used to work for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority before he retired.

Teaching assistant Marinda Hiscoe said: “Her name is Jewel and she has been a jewel to work with.”

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