Ann says a fond farewell

AFTER 21 years at the helm of Whitton Primary School, Ann Taylor is today bidding an emotional farewell to pupils and colleagues as she embarks on her next challenge - retirement.

AFTER 21 years at the helm of Whitton Primary School, Ann Taylor is today bidding an emotional farewell to pupils and colleagues as she embarks on her next challenge - retirement.

The 62-year-old joined the school as acting head teacher of the infant's school in 1988, taking over as head teacher of both the junior school and the infants when the schools merged.

With more ups than downs over the years Miss Taylor said ahead of her “big day” that stepping down and handing over the reigns is a “strange feeling.”

“It has been a long time,” she said. “I shall certainly miss the children and everything that goes with children, the laughter, the talking, the tears as well.

“And I will miss all my wonderful colleagues, they have been really supportive, they are good friends.”

But she said she was relishing the idea of retirement as a chance to spend more time in the garden, to switch off, go shopping without watching the clock and take time for a holiday.

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And she added: “The school needs somebody with more energy and vitality to take it on from where it is.

“The school is a thriving and busy place with lots of initiatives coming through all the time and it needs somebody to pick these up and fly with them and be successful.

“There is a great opportunity to make the place sing and make it even more successful than it is.”

Her long teaching career, 41 years of which have been spent teaching children in Suffolk, has been the “most rewarding job,” according to Miss Taylor.

She said seeing children progress and learn in her classroom, making things happen for themselves and achieve had been a “real privilege” and a “magical experience.”

She said it has been an “increasingly challenging” career, maintaining standards and ensuring children are achieving all set out by the national curriculum.

“Years ago you could be more spontaneous in the classroom,” she said. “Children can learn so much from being creative and imaginative.

“Very good teachers can still incorporate that creative side into their every day programme.”

With thousands of memories from her years at Whitton Primary School, she said it is hard to pinpoint her favourite ones, but she said of all the memories it is those she has of her pupils past and present that will stay with her.

“I will remember the laughter,” she said. “You have to have a good sense of humour when you are a teacher and I have laughed lots over the years.

“When you serve the most hard pressed area in the whole of Suffolk we have to deal with some difficult problems but you always come through and you come through laughing and smiling.

“The children make me laugh every day, the things they say, there have been too many happy times to remember.”

Recalling her years at Whitton, Miss Taylor picked out a few of her memorable moments.

From lightning strikes to fires and floods she has experienced all that nature could throw at the school.

But one of the defining memories is a project started 13 years ago by a then pupil and now artist in residence at the school, Sanchia Hunting.

The imposing stain glass window, with seven stunning and unique panels, was finally finished on Wednesday, fittingly just in time for Miss Taylor's final day.

She said: “It is just spectacular, when the sun shines through it a rainbow falls across the school and as the children walk passed it touches them, it is just magical.”

And such is her fondness of the on-going project, her leaving present from staff and pupils was a smaller replica of the window for her home in Wickham Market.

In the early 1990's the school was struck by lightning, leading to a small fire on the roof of the building.

In 1997 torrential downpours over Ipswich left classrooms under inches of water and gushing through the playground, leaving pupils and staff to be rescued by the fire service pumping the water away.

The school celebrated the Queen's Golden Jubilee in style in 2002 with a huge party.

Every year the school has chicken's eggs in the school with pupils watching them hatch.

Miss Taylor added: “I will remember all the children have achieved over the years, it has been wonderful.”