Miss Spore is retiring
As ever, at this time of year we say goodbye to teachers who have been instrumental in helping their pupils be the best they can be. Ms Avery, in the final assembly, said some words of thanks on the school’s behalf to these teachers, starting with the inimitable Fleur Spore – our beloved Head of Geography and guru regarding all matters pertaining to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award! Fleur is retiring after 37 years of dedicated service to the school.
Fleur grew up in Ipswich and later went to Cambridge University to study Geography. She stayed on there to do a PCGE and then began teaching at St Mary’s in 1983, having spent one of her teacher placements here. She fell in love with teaching and was amazed that you could be paid for having such fun!
Three years later, in 1986, she helped to set up the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme at the school – and is still leading expeditions 34 years later! Indeed, she was recently recognised and thanked by Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, at St James’s Palace for her (more than) 30 years of service to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
Fleur’s boundless enthusiasm for her subject, and her endless support for our students, whether that be through organising activity trips to France, leading Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) expeditions in Wales, or assisting on Sixth Form trips around the world, is unparalleled. Her dedication to St Mary’s and its students over her 37 years of service has been invaluable; however, not only has she dedicated much of her free time to enriching the lives of the girls at St Mary’s, but she also has also helped the wider community over the years as well; training teachers at Homerton College, Cambridge; helping other local schools to set up the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme; teaching swimming at Kelsey Kerridge; and co-writing Geography booklets, such as ‘People Count’ and the NSCA’s ‘Transport Emissions Assessment’.
Over her time at St Mary’s, she has taught thousands of children. Her warm style of teaching, her wonderful sense of humour and her expert knowledge about Geography and wildlife have left lasting impressions on her students, several of whom have gone on to become Geography teachers themselves. She brings her love of birds and wild flowers to Geography trips and DofE expeditions, and is eager to share her appreciation of the natural world and the outdoors with others. Her hobby of mountaineering – she has scaled mountains such as Mont Blanc, Chimborazo and Cotopaxi in her spare time – has certainly aided her in becoming an excellent DofE leader.
The students she teaches also constantly surprise and inspire her; she adores those “moments of sudden insight” when a student ‘gets’ a topic. Fleur is immensely respected and valued by her colleagues, many of whom she has taught in some capacity, either at St Mary’s School or at Homerton College, Cambridge. As Fleur approaches retirement at the end of this academic year, we look back at the immeasurable impact she has had at our school, and wonder how we will ever begin to fill the void she will leave behind. Her laughter, warmth and expertise has touched us all.
Other teachers have been quick to show how much Fleur means to them:
Fleur epitomises everything that is great about St Mary’s and embodies the ethos of the school - she puts other people before herself at all times. She is entirely reliable and sensible and you feel you have a safety net. She puts the best interests of the girls at the heart of everything she does and is utterly beloved by colleagues and pupils. When alumnae visit the school, she is always the person they want to see and they can be assured of a warm welcome whatever is going on.
I am always in awe of her subject knowledge, enthusiasm and determination to do everything well, which has inspired many students to study Geography at university and even become Geography teachers themselves.
Janine Norman: Teacher of Geography and the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme Co-ordinator
I have been lucky to have been taught by Fleur as a pupil for 7 years and to work with Fleur as a colleague for 6 years. I truly believe that I am a Geography teacher today because of her. She inspired me to love the world we live in and to see it in its glory. She made me want to know more about the planet I lived in. My best memories of Fleur as a pupil were on school trips. She was so caring and nurturing but she would not take any messing and no one wanted to disappoint her. She made us giggle so much and see the joy in the world every day. I did D of E Gold just to get more trips away. They were such fun but I felt very safe.
This has been the same as a colleague in the department. She has cared for us so much and she always sees the good in you. This is true in her approach to the girls. She knows them so well and they adore her sense of humour and fun. [...]
She would do anything for anyone at any time and she is the most incredible human being. Without her I really don’t think I would be in a career I love, teaching a subject I love or be the person I am today. She brings out the good in you and is incredibly authentic. She will stand up for herself but in a kind, firm way and she has total respect from everyone around her. She remembers everyone she has ever taught and stories about them. I could honestly say she is the kindest, most genuine person I will ever meet and I love her! I can’t imagine a day in St Mary’s without her as she is the modern day ‘Mary Ward’!
Julia Hutchinson: Teacher of Geography and Joint Head of Year 9
Fleur is a wonderful human being and a joyful, compassionate teacher. She lives and loves her job! [...] Fleur is not only an excellent teacher but an outstanding tutor who frequently sums up her students with an apposite reflection and generous turn of phrase. Fleur’s enthusiasm and optimism on Duke of Edinburgh expeditions is both legendary and infectious [...] Her enthusiasm extends beyond D of E expeditions to encouraging international students to wear crampons and scale glaciers on trips to Iceland or encouraging local students on hikes in dense undergrowth in Costa Rica. Fleur remains young at heart and the girls love her spirit. Our community will be smaller without Fleur’s benign light next year but her generosity means that future students will benefit from her contribution to the school’s Bursary Fund.
Charlotte Avery, Headmistress
As many of you will know, we have put out a call for testimonies to Fleur so that we can incorporate these into a printed book for her to treasure forever. We have had a tremendous response to this and can confirm that that the book is currently 55 pages long and still growing!