30th May 2008 at 01:00
Andrea Masson
Andrea Masson.

Friends and colleagues have said Andrea Masson, a teacher at St Combs School who died in April, squeezed more into her 38 years than most people who live to old age. She died of a heart attack in her sleep.

Andrea was a caring teacher who seemed to have a knack of identifying and helping children to overcome their difficulties. She was especially good with vulnerable children who needed extra support.

It was with a glowing report from her previous head at Peterhead Central School that she arrived in 1993 at Aberdeenshire's St Combs, near Fraserburgh. Her reference stated that she was particularly good at getting children to do well in creative writing, but this was only the tip of her talents. Peterhead Central's loss was St Combs's gain.

Andrea started with the middle stages but latterly taught P6 and 7. She worked full-time for her first three years but then moved to part-time. She and her jobshare partner, Anne Buchan, also took up the duties of headteacher relief in recent years. Their partnership lasted 12 years and looked as if it would go on for many more.

Andrea's skills in music and drama made her the driving force behind many successful school concerts. She played the organ and taught the children to sing a wide variety of songs, from hymns to pop and country and western. Three years ago, her class made a CD as part of an enterprise project; sales from the CD and a concert made enough money to buy four laptops for the school.

She was the school's technology co-ordinator, always on hand to help colleagues. In this role she had been particularly excited about a Learning and Teaching Scotland project in which the school had become involved, addressing the potential educational benefits of computer consoles.

Her impressive ability to handle health education meant this area of the curriculum in the upper stages was entrusted to her. She was also the school's co-ordinator for the Aberdeenshire Staged Intervention Supporting Teaching project, providing valuable advice on dealing with low-level disruption.

Andrea was a very talented artist and managed to transmit her enthusiasm and bring out the best in pupils. She was due to help design and paint a mural on the playground wall this term; the project will still go ahead, and will serve as a tribute to an excellent teacher.

She is survived by her husband, James, three children and a stepson.

Robert Watt, head of St Combs.

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