APS News No21

abingdon.org.uk/prep 23 Abingdon Prep Fond Farewells John was the first member of staff I met. It is customary for new teachers to visit the School in the Summer Term prior to starting in September and I was no different. Typically, a first-time visitor might think that the green (now blue) doors at the front are the main entrance, rather than the glass-fronted ones at the side. After waiting for ten minutes on a June morning in 2010, I eventually encountered a chirpy Estuary-accented chap, who pointed out my mistake and directed me to where I needed to go. It was a warm welcome that I have always appreciated. Fireworks Evening is an opportunity for old boys to visit the school, often for the first time John Herrington since leaving the previous summer. On at least three occasions, a group of boys has excitedly approached me and their questions have always been similar: “Where’s John?”, “Do you know where John is?”. Here’s me thinking that they might be genuinely pleased to see me, that I’ve had a positive influence on their lives, or for sowing the seeds of interest in learning ancient languages. No. They were pleased to see me because I might be able to tell them where John was. Joking aside, the fact that John is the teacher old boys want to come back and see is testament to his huge popularity amongst pupils, past and present. In the week prior to his leaving I asked pupils to write a short tribute to John that I might use in my leaver’s speech. The themes were consistent. “Knowledgeable” was one of them. It is his interest in, and vast knowledge of all things geographical that has inspired many pupils to develop a life-long interest in Geography, with some going on to study it at leading universities. “Humour” was another one and the tributes are full of words like “funny”, “hilarious” and “banterous”. Pupils very much appreciated John’s light-hearted but hugely effective approach to teaching. Such qualities were similarly appreciated by staff. John’s knowledge of sport, history, politics Debbie Rose Debbie has been with us for four years, during which she has directed many concerts, all truly impressive with such varied and interesting repertoire. It has been wonderful for the boys to experience so many different genres and cultures in music. Debbie has very high expectations and consistently produced performances to an incredibly high standard. She has always done her utmost to make sure we are the best we can be. Debbie’s great sense of humour is a huge asset. We have seen this in our lessons where we all enjoyed Debbie’s comical demonstrations of what not to do when singing and performing! I’ve been most impressed in our group singing lessons by her ability to, not only play the piano brilliantly, but also sing the words and, at the same time, notice who is trying their best or indeed who is not quite doing what they should: multitasking of the highest standard! Debbie is an outstanding teacher and musician, able to play the piano, saxophone, guitar, drums, flute, clarinet, recorder and more, I’m sure. Her talents don’t stop there! Debbie is also a hugely talented composer and we have been lucky enough to perform her work. Debbie’s compositions are superb and I have often told her she should publish them so other schools can buy and perform them too. We have been very lucky to have such a talent at our school. We will all miss her. Debbie’s final concert at the Amey Theatre was a night to remember, a fitting finale to her time at Abingdon Prep. Lenka Sowter and many other areas are extensive and it is this wisdom and good humour that made him a great conversationalist and such good company. I, for one, will certainly miss our early morning chats which set me up for the day and helped me put things into perspective. One last anecdote comes from two years ago when I had invited an old boy to help judge a public speaking competition. Over lunch I went through the teachers that were still at the school and may have taught him. On mentioning John, his verbatim response was “Well, Abingdon Prep wouldn’t be Abingdon Prep without John!” Indeed, Abingdon Prep without John will take a lot of getting used to and will be a different, if slightly quieter, place. Rob Shaw In the workroom, 2004! Normandy, 2014 Bushcraft at Studland with Y8, 2012 John’s perennial World Book Day look,2018 2013