Two St Albans primary school head teachers wave goodbye

TWENTY three years after two new teachers joined St Albans primary schools, both have decided to move on to pastures new.

Headteachers Terrie Clifft and Richard Dawson, at Garden Fields JMI and Cunningham Hill Junior School respectively, started their jobs on exactly the same day and last week both were guests of honour at individual end-of-an-era school parties.

Terrie, who started as a junior school teacher and became head in 1999, spent last Tuesday afternoon at a leaving party with ex-staff members, governors and teachers and then celebrated with her pupils at a Fun on the Field event outside.

Terrie, who is moving to Norfolk and taking up a head-teaching post at a nearby village school, said that she always wanted to be a teacher: “I set my heart on teaching at the age of five! I had a fantastic infant school teacher called Miss Lovelock, and she inspired me to teach. Some children struggle with what they want to be when they grow up, so I consider myself lucky on that account.”

She added: “23 years is a long time to be at one school, but Garden Fields has kept me on my toes because it’s ever-changing. There’s always something new and exciting going on, and I’ve really enjoyed working with so many great staff members over the years. What’s special about this school is the friendly, family atmosphere.”

Other Garden Fields teachers leaving soon include Year 6 teacher Jane Fleming, who has been there for 20 years off and on, learning support assistant of 18 years Fiona Davidson, and Year 2 teacher Vikki Peggie. Chris Jukes, currently head teacher at Mount Pleasant Lane JMI School, will be filling Terrie’s shoes.

Richard Dawson, who is retiring, celebrated last Friday with a special open-air assembly, when staff and pupils gathered together to share memories to live music. Past pupils and staff were also invited.

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Chair of governors Marie-Claire Scherman said that he had played a vital part in Cunningham Hill’s history: “Mr Dawson thinks that a school should be at the heart of the community, which has helped us become one of the top schools in Herts. He strongly believes that education is more than the so-called three Rs; it’s the four Rs, where the fourth is about relationships.”

Mr Dawson, a keen chess player who has helped Cunningham become Herts School Chess Team Champions, will be succeeded by current deputy head at the school Justine Elbourne-Cload.