Oakley Vale Primary School and Brooke Weston Trust pay tribute to colleague Nikki McDonald
The playground at Oakley Vale Primary School turned into a sea of bubbles during a day of special activities to commemorate its much-valued teacher and colleague, Nikki McDonald, who died suddenly last month.
The school, parents and Trust staff gathered for a 'special afternoon about a special lady.' Students and staff sang songs, recited poems and spoke about their favourite memories of Mrs McDonald and, as a finale, blew bubbles into the air in celebration of her life and work.
Mrs McDonald, a very experienced early years specialist, had been at the Brooke Weston Trust for five years, firstly as a lead teacher across its primary schools, and more recently as Vice Principal at Oakley Vale Primary school, working closely with colleagues and Principal Emma Goodwin. She liaised with teachers across the Trust primaries and also delivered professional courses at the Brooke Weston Trust Teaching School.
A series of events was held today (Thursday 19 July) to celebrate Mrs McDonald’s life and her huge contribution to the school. Students dressed colourfully with a ‘shorts and shades’ theme and they each remembered Mrs McDonald by painting commemorative rocks which will be placed around a water feature as a permanent reminder. The new teepee in the play area will be named 'Nikki's Nook' in her honour and will serve as a tranquil and reflective place for students.
In the afternoon everyone gathered to remember Nikki’s talents and her warm and generous nature with a series of poems, recollections and songs. People remembered her as 'all around amazing' and spoke about her 'smile, energy and passion.'
Miss Goodwin said: ‘Nikki’s zest for life and enthusiasm were infectious and she spent every day in a flurry of activity and always with a smile on her face. She loved her job and was an absolute joy to work with. She brought passion and energy to everything she did and her contribution to life at Oakley Vale cannot be overstated.
‘As a Vice Principal Nikki was amazing and full of ideas to improve the lives of young people and she brought her professional expertise into every situation. Her passing has been a huge shock to the school community and I’d like to thank all the staff and parents who have been so supportive of each other at this very difficult time. Our condolences go to her family and we, as her Oakley Vale family, are immensely proud and privileged to have known and worked alongside her. She was a dear friend, who is much missed and who will always be remembered with gratitude and affection.’
Executive Principal Leyton Smith said: ‘Nikki was a tremendous force for good in the Trust and was always encouraging to others in the profession and willing to share her time and specialist expertise. Her knowledge and passion for early years teaching meant that the children in our care had the very best start in their school career. All of us who were lucky enough to know and work with Nikki recognised her as a shining star and her contribution to the work of this Trust was immense.’
CEO Dr Andrew Campbell said: ‘Nikki was an exceptional teacher and an exemplary role model for others. She was kind, caring, unstinting with her time and energy and could be relied upon to always do and be her best. As a result she was loved and respected by colleagues and everyone whose lives she touched. She was an inspirational teacher and her lasting legacy will be in the laughter and enrichment she brought to the many children who were lucky enough to have been taught by her.’
To see a gallery of pictures from today's celebration of Nikki's life click here.