The end of the summer term saw Sibford School near Banbury bidding farewell to two long-serving members of staff.
Head of Art Mike Spring retired after 32 years with the school. Meanwhile Patsy Howes, senior teacher at the Junior School, has left after 18 years to enjoy what she describes as a ‘late GAP year’.
Mike Spring joined Sibford in September 1981 as an assistant English teacher and house-master. He moved to the Art department four years later, and was subsequently appointed head of the faculty.
It was while at Sibford that Mike met his wife-to-be Penny, a fellow teacher. The couple married in 1988 and together took over as house parents at the newly opened junior school where they looked after 22 boarders aged 9 and 10. Their daughter, Amy, was born in 1989 and their son, Isaac, followed three years later.
Throughout his time at Sibford, Mike has been responsible for the school’s participation in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and, over the years, has taken numerous pupils out on expeditions. He has also championed Sibford’s involvement with the Fair Trade movement.
Following his retirement Mike plans to devote more time to his own art – he enjoys painting and carving – and in doing up the family’s recently purchased house. But he will still be seen on the Sibford campus as he is returning on a part-time basis to teach AS Photography.
Patsy Howes joined Orchard Close (as the Junior School was originally known) in September 1995. “I will leave Sibford with a lot of good memories,” she said. “When I came the junior school had just three classes and many of the pupils were boarders. Today we have no boarders in the Junior School and children join us from the age of just three.
“For the past 18 years I have spent two hours a day going up and down the Fosse Way doing a round trip of 62 miles getting to and from school. I was presented with the opportunity of being able to take a break, a sort of late GAP year, and decided to do just that.”
Patsy’s GAP year will start in September when she will be found singing in Portsmouth Cathedral. Other plans include travelling to Sweden and driving her beloved 1967 Triumph 2000, which has recently undergone major refurbishment.