St Agnes School Base Leader Retires After 11 Years

lou simmonds july 2015

The leader of the St Agnes school base has retired after 11 years’ service to the community.

And Lou Simmonds says her decision to move to the island in 2004 gave her a “dream job” in “an excellent community.”

On Friday, Lou ended her 41-year teaching career. After graduating from college in London, she started work in special education in Barnes before moving to Surrey where she was promoted to a head teacher role.

But after 3 years as a head Lou says she missed working with children.

When she was offered the chance to take up the unique role on the island, she says she “jumped at it.”

There were just two pupils on the St Agnes school roll when Lou arrived and they were at different ends of the age spectrum.

Engaging children between the ages of 4 and 11 has been a challenge, similar to “spinning plates,” she says.

But she says it’s gratifying to see, “tiny little people grow into amazingly confident and well rounded people.”

And she says off-island children seem to be much more confident in the presence of grown-ups, which is something you don’t see in other places.

Lou was given a highly personal and thoughtful leaving present – pottery from Norway. Lou and her husband holiday there regularly.

And yesterday, as Lou cleared out her desk, she says she’s packed away many items that remind her of her time at St Agnes school.

That includes a stone ornament that sits on her desk, which she always tells the pupils is the one naughty child that she couldn’t crack, so she turned them into a toad!

Lou expects that retiring from teaching, her life’s work, will leave a big gap in her life. “I’ve always been a teacher,” she says.

But she hopes to be fully occupied with her new craft business, painting landscapes and making baskets at one of the new Island Hall workshops.

She advises her successor Maddie Goudsmith to “enjoy every second.”