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Thursday, 17 December 2015
Retiring Head Mrs Ruth Brierley proved so popular that the money collected by the Parents’ Association, staff and pupils was sufficient to buy her a pocket-sized Cockapoo puppy! Mrs Brierley was presented with a photo of the dog – she will take ownership on New Year’s Eve after her trip to see the Northern Lights – and a vast range of doggie accoutrements in an emotional leaving assembly on her last day at the helm of Hesketh House, Bolton School’s Junior Girls’ School. As Mrs Brierley opened gift after gift for her new puppy, which included basket, lead, bowl, blanket, tag and cushion, she announced that it will be called “Hesketh, what else could it be called?”
She retires from teaching after 25 years and more than six years in her present role as Head of the independent school for girls aged 7-11 years. There was barely a dry eye in the house in an afternoon assembly which began when Mrs Brierley was surprised by her mother and three daughters, who spent the rest of the day with her at what proved to be a wonderful send-off. The assembly, which included songs and a short film dedicated to the Head recapped her hugely popular headship at the School and touched on her many highlights, including her introduction of the Habits of Mind philosophy for girls’ learning and her impeccable stewardship of the Junior School’s move from within Senior School to its own stunning state of the art premises. She also received travel vouchers, flowers and a Memories book which included hundreds of testimonials and fond wishes from pupils, former pupils, staff and parents.
Addressing the assembly, a grateful Mrs Brierley said: “From the bottom of my heart, thank you very, very much. I have had a wonderful time at Bolton School and I could not have asked for a nicer send-off and it has been done in such a variety of ways. I always knew what I wanted to do, it has been a calling. For me it has always been about the girls and it has been a great privilege to work with such thoughtful, creative and intelligent pupils. I will miss them more than anything. They are very, very special and precious and I tell you girls in front of me, you should go out into the world to make a difference for good and change things. Believe and you can be anything you want to be. You are my everything. Have a wonderful Christmas.”
Miss Sue Hincks, Headmistress of the Girls’ Division, paid tribute to her retiring colleague: “Ruth has been an utterly devoted and much-loved Headmistress of Hesketh House. Her calm manner, wisdom and kindness have had a transformative effect on the School at a key time, as the Junior girls moved in to their own purpose built, brand new building. Ruth’s creativity and educational philosophy are visible throughout the new School - with murals, a stained glass window and fantastic displays all supporting the girls’ learning and emotional development. Ruth has retained the passionate enthusiasm for children which first inspired her to go in to teaching. She remains very young at heart and open to new ideas: her interest in the world around her – and in other worlds - has inspired the girls during assemblies. She is looking forward to spending time with her puppy, Hesketh, her leaving present from the pupils, parents and staff. I have no doubt that she will be as effective a mistress for Hesketh as she has been a Headmistress for Hesketh House. We are devastated that she is leaving but want only the best for her in her retirement. My only comfort is that her successor is Carol Laverick, herself an experienced, wise and kind Head who I know will do a wonderful job at stepping in to Ruth’s shoes.”
The lyrics of one of the songs sung in her leaving assembly, summed up the thoughts of many a young girl and former pupil: “You have made a difference, you have changed lives, you have changed the world, one child at a time.”
Earlier, Mrs Brierley had been taken by surprise by the girls at break when they suddenly burst into a well-coordinated flashmob dance as she rang the morning bell. The dance was repeated at the end of the day so that Mrs Brierley’s mother and daughters could witness the spectacle!
Prior to Bolton School, Mrs Brierley, worked in two other independent schools in a career spanning 25 years as a class teacher, deputy head and headmistress. Reflecting on her life in teaching, she said: "I have always believed in the privileged position we hold as teachers and leaders in education. The desire to do our job well and to embrace the whole child has been my life long passion and focus. The rewards have been many and have brought me much happiness along with memories I shall treasure for years to come."
Mrs Brierley looks forward to travelling, gardening, walking, visiting friends, art galleries, the theatre and learning new skills.
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