Whitnash Nursery School has bid a fond farewell to its long-serving headteacher Karen Howell who has called an end to a career covering four decades.
Children, parents, governors and staff at the Nursery Lane school held a surprise party for Mrs Howell last Thursday at which she gave a heartfelt speech thanking all of them and others for the support they have given her during her 28 years there.
Speaking to the Courier before the party, Mrs Howell described her feelings on her penultimate day in the job.
She said: “I’ve got mixed emotions, I’m very happy and excited about the new phase in my life but obviously there is a sadness attached as well because I have been here for a long time.
“I feel very lucky that I have been able to do a job that I’ve loved doing for this period of time, “I’m very proud of the school as it is now that we’ve worked to develop together with staff and parents and governors so I’m full of pride and sadness and excitement.”
When Mrs Howell came to the school in 1986 it only had six staff.
It now employs more than twice that number.
In those days there was no earliest foundation stage curriculum for children and since then changes to education have been made on an annual basis.
Mrs Howell said that the addition of a children’s centre on the site around 2000 added a richness to the school and its community.
She said: “We have just kept on by working together and by keeping our philosophy and ‘child centredness’ and working with families as well.
The school, which has more than 100 pupils aged up to four, set up its Nurture Nursery 18 months ago which means children as young as two can now attend.
Mrs Howell said: “So much has changed, but the one thing that hasn’t is children, being two, three or four is still as wondrous and exciting as it always has been so be to part of that and to work with children and their families has been amazing.
“I have a speech planned and it is really just about thanking people because it’s not just about me it’s been an effort from everybody.”
Mrs Howell, a mother of two and grandmother of three of whom two attended the nursery, said she has no grand plans for her retirement other than to relax and spend more time with her family.
Two of the farewell gifts she received were framed collections of drawings of her created by the children.