Pupils bid a fond farewell

IPSWICH/FELIXSTOWE: School’s out for more than just the summer for several well-loved teachers who are today starting their retirement.

In nearly 20 years as head of Causton Junior School, Felixstowe, Paul Rooney has seen two former pupils return to the school as teachers, and a host of students have come back as parents with their own children at the school.

Mr Rooney, 60, from Ipswich, said: “I’m definitely going to miss the children and the people I work with the most. There are all sorts of things I will always remember but obviously it’s the children I will miss the most.

“I have really enjoyed it. I think the best moments for me are when we have worked with children who have found things difficult and we feel we have made headway with them, seeing them grow and develop and do well at the end.

“It is a smashing job and I don’t regret any of it.”

Mr Rooney was previously headteacher at St Pancras and St Mary’s Primary Schools in Ipswich, and Clare Community School in Sudbury.

Barbara Bayley, chair of the governing board for the past 18 years, said: “He is an outstanding head teacher, and he’s going to be a hard act to follow.

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“One of the things that impresses me about Paul is how he knows nearly all of the children’s names. He’s very caring and the children like to talk to him as well because he always has time for them.”

Sprites Primary School, Stonechat Road, Ipswich, also said goodbye to deputy headteacher Marilyn Johnstone-Kickham, who retired after 19 years at the school.

Mrs JK, as she is known to staff and children, enjoyed a special assembly held by the children in her honour. They sang a song written especially for her and shared poems, films and happy memories of her tenure at the school.

Headteacher Shaun Valentine said: “Mrs JK is a much respected member of the school community, who has had an extremely positive impact on Sprites Primary School. She will be missed by all.”

Handford Hall Primary School headteacher Jon Trotter, 62, also bid farewell to his pupils after seven years at the helm, and 39 years in total as a teacher.

He will continue as a consultant for the international primary curriculum, which he implemented at the school in Gatacre Road, Ipswich.

Mr Trotter said: “The children are a fantastic group and the school has gone from strength to strength. Our pupils are from a whole range of backgrounds and the progress they make is just fantastic.

“I am honoured to stand beside my staff. I have always had strong support from a very good team. Last time there was a teaching appointment we had 47 applications for two positions.”

It was a doubly sad occasion for Gusford Primary School, Sheldrake Road, Ipswich, as they waved off two long-serving staff members. Jude Hussey has been a teacher at the school for 35 years and has seen two former pupils return as young teachers, while Brenda Wright has been involved in the school for 27 years as a lollipop lady, school governor, cleaner and classroom volunteer.

Headteacher Colin Tapscott said: “Jude is a bit of a legend when it comes to the school.

“I told the children at our last assembly they have seen modelled in these two people what life is all about. They are people who have given to the school and who go above and beyond to make a difference to children.

“They will be sorely missed.”

n Do you want to pay tribute to a special teacher? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk