A New Forest school has said a fond farewell to two of its longest serving teachers.
The end of term saw the retirement of science and PE teachers Rob Williamson and Sarah Conacher – who between them have served 66 years at The Arnewood School, New Milton.
And for both teachers it has been a lifetime dedicated to one school.
After spending his early career working in mission hospitals in southern Africa and moving into in the pharmaceutical industry when returning to the UK, Rob took up teaching in 1987.
After completing his PGCE Rob’s first practice school was Arnewood – and he has never looked back.
“After five years of well-paid employment and with a growing family it was clear to me that helping people progress socially and mentally was more important than making a profit for the shareholders,” Rob recalled.
“I did my PGCE at Southampton and fortunately my first practice school was Arnewood.
“Obviously they must have liked me as they offered me a job which was fantastic as I loved the school – and always have.”
Teaching science and A-level biology Rob progressed through a number of stages during his Arnewood career, including taking the Key Stage 3 lead in science, being deputy Head of Year and in 1997 becoming Head of Year.
And Rob also took on the role of governor.
He reflected: “The relationships I have made with families and students as they have progressed through the years at Arnewood have been very special.
“All in all I have never wished to miss a day while I have been at Arnewood. The staff are fantastically supportive and the students positive and a delight to teach.”
Sarah Conacher arrived at Arnewood 37 years ago and straight from teaching training college.
A PE teacher for all that time, Sarah is fairly confident she must have taught most of New Milton in the ways of sport.
In her time Sarah became Head of PE, a role she relinquished when she decided to teach part-time from the 1990s.
In 2006 she took up the important mantle of sports co-ordinator, working with the New Forest Schools Sports Partnership.
And in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics Sarah was responsible for implementing sport strategy across 10 schools in the area.
“It has been an absolute delight teaching at The Arnewood School for almost 40 years,” Sarah said.
“I have only ever taught PE but in that time I must have taught most of New Milton!
“My biggest achievement and the one I am most proud of, was getting the school’s astro pitch off the ground and installed. It’s a fantastic addition to the local community.”
Sarah will be continuing with some work with the New Forest School Sport Partnership (NFSSP) and looks forward to writing children’s fiction.
The Arnewood School’s headteacher, Nigel Pressnell, said: “We are very sad to see Rob and Sarah go after dedicating so much of their lives to our school and generations of our students.
“We wish them a very happy retirement.”
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