LEH Bids A Fond Farewell To Mrs Leigh After 28 Years
It's about to be the last bell of the day for much-loved Maths teacher Sheila Leigh, who has many happy memories of her time at LEH.
When I first arrived as a Maths teacher at LEH in 1984, little did I expect to be there until 2020, with the exception of eight years out when my children were young. Of course, school was very different then; there were no computers, the internet hadn’t been invented and we were still decades off using iPads in lessons. If I wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of the school to do some marking, I would hide in “the tower” which was on the second floor above the main entrance, a space that now belongs to IT Support. The building was very different in other ways too, no Sports Hall, LRC or Theatre, but apart from some refurbishment, the Assembly Hall is just the same and yes, the girls do still sit on the floor for assembly and listen to (or not!) the notices read from the notice book. Some things don’t change!
I had taught previously at Tiffin School so the main difference was teaching girls instead of boys. I definitely had to tone down my strict discipline but I loved teaching Maths and my aim was always that firstly my students would enjoy Maths, secondly become confident in it, so that thirdly their competence in the subject would follow as a matter of course. It seemed to work with one U6 class who gave me an enormous cookie with the Quadratic Formula iced on it (no easy task!) as a thank you for teaching them. Over the years I have enjoyed accompanying school trips as it was an opportunity to relate to the students in a more informal way. However, I must admit to wishing the students were not so keen, when we stood on a first world war battlefield, in horizontal sleet, and the girls kept asking the guide yet more questions. Only LEH girls would do that I feel! For many years, I was involved in the pastoral care at the school, ultimately as Head of Year for the LIV/UIV layer. I found this the most fulfilling part of my whole career as I tried to help the girls overcome any difficulties they were experiencing. I also ran the Christian Union for many years and enjoyed the way it gave me a chance to get to know some pupils at a much deeper level.
There were of course some frustrating times, for example teaching in “temporary” portacabins for ten years while new building work was taking place. However, these were far outweighed by the funny times. There was the fake sick which had me completely fooled one April 1st (and I was SO caring!) and also the girls who tried to hug their Hampton boyfriends through the chain link fence, not forgetting the time I arrived to teach an U5 class and the handle fell off the door, leaving us all stranded in the room. However, the incident that sticks most in my memory was when I volunteered to cover a PSHE lesson. When I was told it was the “Tampax talk”, I thought at first it was a joke and then hoped that the girls would be too shy to ask any questions. They were not. There were all sorts of questions, including “Where do you actually put the tampon?” I hope I explained adequately!
In my leaving video to the girls in the final assembly of this year, I gave them one piece of advice. I encouraged them to find a job that they can be passionate about. They will be working for a large part of their lives and it is such a privilege to get up on a Monday morning and look forward to going into work, as I have done. Of course, in teaching no two days are ever the same! That I have been at LEH such a long time is an indication of how happy I have been at the school, mostly because the girls across all the decades have been wonderful. They have been particularly supportive during the Covid 19 pandemic, when I have been giving “live” lessons from my iPad at home. Who would have thought my last term of teaching would be a stressful as my first term of teaching?
I will find it incredibly difficult not being at LEH in September, looking forward to a fresh school year full of possibilities. However, I am delighted to have become a grandmother recently. My daughter Christine, who left LEH in 2005, has just had son called James and I fully intend to be a “hands on” Nana. So I should be busy in September after all!