Friday Hero

After 11 years at East Haddon CE primary, Northamptonshire, Jeanette Barnes is leaving today.

For all that time, Jeanette has been a classroom assistant in Claire Truslove's reception and Year 1 class. But, says Ms Truslove, who nominated Jeanette for our flowers, champagne and chocolate, "she is more than a colleague; she is a real friend".

"She has seen me through courtship, marriage, two house moves and two children, and is a fantastic classroom assistant," she adds. "I don't know what I'm going to do without her."

Parents and children have been in tears at the news and Ms Truslove is predicting more waterworks today, when Jeanette finally leaves to take up a job as a childminding development worker, having recently completed an early years degree.

Ms Truslove says Jeanette's "larger-than-life" presence will be particularly missed at East Haddon, which has just three classes and 72 pupils. "In a school this size you get roped into doing all sorts of things," she says.

Jeanette has been a dinner lady and taught PE, and is currently a governor.

Her thatched cottage in the village has hosted numerous visits from pupils whenever a history topic comes up. But now her children have finished their schooling (her youngest was in Ms Truslove's class when Jeanette started) she has decided it's time to move on.

Ms Truslove says it has been "fantastic" working with her. "She lights up the room. She is 100 per cent enthusiastic and always bright and cheery. If it's a bit of a grey day and the children are feeling miserable she can get them smiling and laughing within minutes.

"The children, parents and other staff will miss her smile and the school will be a poorer place without her."

Is there an unsung hero in your school? Tell Sarah Bayliss, TESFriday editor, about him or her at the address opposite. Flowers kindly supplied by Marks Spencer

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