Friday, 30 July 2021

School’s Jewel has been an absolute gem

A TEACHER at Robert Piggot Infant School has retired after 18 years.

A TEACHER at Robert Piggot Infant School has retired after 18 years.

Jewel Simpson, 59, said goodbye to staff and pupils she admitted she will miss on Friday last week.

She says it “just feels like the right time” to retire but has pledged to return to the school in the future for part-time work.

“It doesn’t feel real to me at all at the moment because we’re all getting ready for the summer holidays anyway,” said Mrs Simpson.

“As a teacher you always feel that. It’s just strange that I won’t be coming back in September.

“I intend to come back and do supply work. I feel as if it’s not retirement, just changing my terms and conditions, certainly to start with.”

Mrs Simpson, of Braybrook Road, said she always wanted to be a teacher while growing up.

She said: “My Sunday school teacher once knocked on my house and said to my mum ‘make sure she becomes a teacher’.

“She must have seen I have that gift from a young age 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 as a teacher before joining the Beverley Gardens school in 1995 and has had two stints as acting headteacher.

Mrs Simpson, who specialises in art and religious education, said one of her proudest moments at the school 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 they are always proud moments when you get to the end of a project and achieve something you set out to achieve together.”

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

She said: “It’s a real family school. It’s got a strong Christian ethos, 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, even when times are tough.

“It’s that team that pulls you through. I enjoy seeing the childrens’ journey through the school.”

Mrs Simpson believes the improved relationship between the infant and junior schools over the last two years has provided more continuity for the pupils.

It also means she has been able to follow their progress after they leave 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 are probably now 22.”

A special assembly was held on Thursday last week for staff and pupils to pay their gratitude to Mrs Simpson and the staff visited The Great House at Sonning for cream teas.

She has three children with her husband Phil, 57, who also used to work in education for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority but is now retired.

Mrs Simpson said will now use her spare time to develop her own artwork and spend more time with her husband but admitted she felt “sad” to be leaving.

Teaching assistant Marinda Hiscoe said: “Her name is Jewel and she has been a jewel to work with. She’s touched every single person.”

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