‘End of an era’ for Welwyn Garden City school as long-serving teacher leaves
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A teacher who has served a school in Welwyn Garden City for 42 years is taking his retirement.
If your parent or even your grandparent went to Monk’s Walk School, it’s quite possible they were taught by Noel Kelly, who first started teaching there in 1976.
In his 42 years of teaching, Mr Kelly has taught thousands of pupils in Welwyn Garden City.
He began as an art teacher and later climbed the ranks to become deputy head, teaching geography and A-level photography.
Mr Kelly said: “I think what’s driven me over the years is working with young people.
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“That’s the most rewarding part of the job - it’s the great driving force.”
At 66, he had the opportunity to take retirement last year, but he said: “I enjoy the job so much, I felt like I had more to give.”
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One of his great passions has been to organise school trips, particularly to New York and to the First World War battlefields.
“When we started doing that years ago, we had 27 kids,” he said. “Now you have approximately 150.”
Witnessing the dedication and the sacrifice of those soldiers has inspired so many people that it has been organised up to three times a year, and even parents sign up to join.
For Mr Kelly, ensuring pupils see and do things beyond the classroom is an important educational strategy. “When you’re there experiencing things, that’s how you learn.”
Headteacher Kate Smith said these are “experiences I know will stay with our students forever,” describing his departure as “the end of an era”.
She added: “Mr Kelly will be sorely missed by everyone associated with Monk’s Walk School, but we wish him a long and happy retirement.”
The world of teaching has changed enormously since the 24-year-old Mr Kelly took the helm in his first classroom.
“The quality of teaching now, it’s so much better, it really is.
“Now you have young teachers coming through and it’s got so much more professional.”
He says the days of smoke-filled staffrooms with gossiping teachers are over.
“Now teachers see this as time to get things done - they’re very dedicated.”
His most recent role has been to lead the school’s efforts behind pupils’ wellbeing.
Mrs Smith said: “He has done that brilliantly.”
Mr Kelly believes he is seen as “firm but fair” with the pupils. “I am seen as strict, but have rarely raised my voice.
“You get much more from kids by getting them on board and building up their self esteem.”
• If you would like to send Mr Kelly a message, please write to: MrKelly@monkswalk.herts.sch.uk.
The school will then make sure that he receives these messages on his retirement.