From Joan Steel
Margaret made the announcements this month and introduced Valerie Statterfield, our speaker who gave a very interesting talk entitled “Being a Headmistres – a way of life”. Valerie’s lifetime career in teaching started in 1966 and ended six years ago. After thirty years of teaching in a wide selection of schools in Britain and the USA while her own children were little, then eventually became Headmistress of Pipers Corner School. Valerie found this very fulfilling, as well as challenging and complex. A head has to be authoritative, democratic, supportive, have a good leadership style, and able to create a positive, all round learning environment where academic achievement is paramount but there must be development of the whole character. Every child is gifted and talented so schools must be inclusive, everyone should feel valued as individuals, and be given high expectations. A school should not be complacent Valerie found that being head if a boarding community as well as living in a bungalow on the premises, was very strenuous as she was never off duty. She was always responsible even for nursing, and had to have legal medicine training. Dealing with many childrens issues, was like having a large family! Administrative issues and paper work could be all consuming eg Governors meetings, parents associations, staff appointments (Valerie outlined the atributes that she looked for in a good teacher), child protection issues that needed agency co-operation, meetings with architects ,dealing with government and political intrusion etc. However Valerie always kept “grounded” by doing some teaching and getting to know the girls and for them to know her. She paid tribute to her outstanding staff. School assemblies were thought provoking and strengthened the co-operative life of the school promoting the enduring power of love. Valerie was warmly thanked for her very interesting and informative talk.
Our next meeting is on April 5th when Mary Gamester’s fabrics talk is on “How India Has Influenced my Work”. The interesting objects competition is for something beginning with the letter R.