Saying farewell to Ms Clarke and Ms St Luce
Totalling more than 50 years of teaching between them, Ms Clarke and Ms St Luce are now preparing to retire from Central Foundation Girls’ School. Before we let them head off for much deserved relaxation, we asked them a few questions about their time here, squeezing in one final opportunity for them to do what they do best: share their knowledge.
What are your memories of joining CFGS? Can you tell us about your first day/week?
Ms Clarke: My first day at CFGS was June 1985, I was a bag of mixed emotions: excitement because it was my first teaching job and I was looking forward to teaching a subject I enjoyed, but also apprehensive and nervous, not knowing what to expect and how staff and students would perceive me, or what support mechanisms (if any) were in place.
Having got through the first day I was somewhat relieved it was over and looked forward to returning. The students and staff were extremely welcoming, which helped calm my nerves and enabled me to fit it and perform professional friendships from the get go.
Ms St Luce: My first memories were that I had to teach subjects that I was not familiar with such as Business, Health and Social Care and English. I also had to walk between sites at different locations: with one building at Tredegar Square. But staff and students were welcoming, in particular I remember Valarie at reception.
Can you tell us about your roles over the years? Which has been your favourite?
Ms Clarke: I was always interested in my professional development, and over the years I had the opportunity to take on the following roles; PE teacher, Acting HOD (PE & Dance), Acting HOY, HOY (permanently appointment) and Teacher Governor.
It is difficult to say which has been my favourite role of responsibility. They have each enhanced my personal and professional development in different ways; enabled me to see the varied elements of teaching, what goes on behind the scenes that enabled CFGS to be successful both within the school and the wider community.
Ms St Luce: My HOY role continues to be the most rewarding – you don’t have a magic wand but the years of experience, trial and errors can often make a difference
What has been the most rewarding experience of your career at CFGS?
Ms St Luce: Collaborating with staff. Getting a group of GCSE students who were SEND to achieve grade 3 and above. Teaching GSCE PE with over 24 students gaining grade 8’s and 9’s. Hearing how ex- students have become teachers, doctors, representing England at sport, carrying the Olympic torch and more.
Ms Clarke: As a HOY the most rewarding experience for me is seeing students with different personalities transition through the different key stages, witnessing and being a part of their metamorphism from sometimes shy young girls to confident young women. I always look forward to ex-students getting in touch, sharing their experiences, what they have gone on to achieve and the successes they have made of their lives. Having the opportunity to welcome back ex-students to the school; sharing with current students their individual journeys, through the alumni and assemblies, their willingness to want to give back to the school as a way of thank you.
The students have always moved me by their kind words of appreciation regarding the support, encouragement and belief I had for them and their terms of endearment – most notably when calling me their “school mum”.
Seeing ex-students who are parents attending Year 6 induction days with their daughters and in some cases being their daughter’s Head of Year. Working alongside ex-students as colleagues who themselves have joined the profession and CFGS in a variety of roles.
What has been the most challenging?
Ms St Luce: Creating and setting up Central GOLD achievements while teaching over 6 GCSE classes.
Ms Clarke: I love a challenge. I would say all the roles and responsibilities have different levels of challenge. With regard to the role of HOY, no two days are the same; it is about being proactive, thinking on your feet and most importantly being ahead of the game. What really helped me throughout my CFGS career was having true passion for the job, the school, and - perhaps most importantly - I saw each student as if they were my own child
How many students do you think you’ve worked with over the years?
Ms St Luce: I can’t answer that, but I hope that whoever, I have worked with, that I have made them think that they can be the best that they can be. Especially when situations are not always the way they want them to be.
Ms Clarke: I would estimate that I have worked directly with over 9,000 students.
What does Central mean to you?
Ms Clarke: Central has not only been my place of employment; it has become my second home. It will always have a special place in my heart. I stayed here for 36 years because I always felt proud being a part of this school and the way the students are cared for and nurtured.
Ms St Luce: CFGS is a place where you’ll see different staff collaborating and working in harmony.
What piece of advice would you give to students and staff?
To students - Central is an excellent school: there will be times when you feel like giving up or not trying, staff have your best interests at heart. They will constantly help and support you even at times when you do not want it. They will always push and challenge you because they care and want you to do your best.
Try to embrace the whole school experience by taking up and participating in as many activities/ opportunities as possible
To staff - If you go for promotion and you do not succeed, I believe everything happens for a reason and your time will come. At times, it appears that teaching is a thankless profession: however, rewards come in the most unlikely forms.
Ms St Luce:
To staff - Surrounding yourself with a few honest ‘buddies’ can make the world of difference with ups as well as downs
Take time to laugh and do not to take things too seriously; there is always someone much more badly off than you.
To students - It is important to have friends but even better to learn now and play later. Be kind to yourself and repeat to others.
Anything else that you’d like to share?
Ms St Luce: Live Long and Prosper – May your god/God go with you!