Delivered by Mrs Lindsay Wills
Believe it or not, Jayne isn’t the first of my colleagues and friends at a school to have broken their ankle not once but twice over.
Jayne and I first bonded four and a bit years ago over classic British telly. I have loved our shared squeals of delight and frothing with her over the complex and gripping storylines, layered social commentary, and well-placed sarcasm and irony. If you know Jayne, you know she loves a whopping understatement and has a finely tuned receiver for outrageousness and a love for the absurd. (Please excuse the maudlin here, Jayne, but…) like the main protagonists we’ve watched on the screen, Jayne has woven humanity into the fabric of her interactions. She brings to mind the detective dramas we’ve both loved —Happy Valley, Line of Duty, Shetland and Unforgotten – where kindness, compassion and empathy, but also explosive and well-placed profanity and wry frankness about human nature – are essential elements of solving the mysteries.
As we say farewell to Jayne, I can’t help but draw parallels to one of our shared favourites—Charlotte Brontë’s timeless novel, Jane Eyre. (Bear with me Jayne…) In this classic tale, themes of loyalty, bravery, and an independent spirit, echo the qualities that define Jayne’s presence here at Herschel.
Like Jane (pause) Eyre, Jayne exemplifies unwavering loyalty in her relationships, standing steadfast in her commitment to those she holds dear. Her bravery, akin to Jane’s, is evident in the face of challenges—whether standing up against injustice or confronting her own fears and insecurities. Jayne, much like our literary counterpart, challenges norms and expectations, making choices that demand immense courage and resilience.
“I am no bird, and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will” encapsulates the essence of Jane Eyre and, in many ways, reflects the spirit that Jayne has brought to our school community.
Beyond her literary prowess, Jayne has been an invaluable colleague, a mentor, and a friend. Her intelligence, articulation, and passion for education, particularly effective pedagogy, have enriched us all. I need only point to the great richness Single Focus Days have brought to Herschel life, something that Jayne was instrumental in bringing to the table. Subject Head meetings will just not be the same without you. Maybe, one day, we’ll figure out what we’re trying to do with reporting and commenting… but without you, it feels like it’ll take just that bit longer…
Jayne has always been one of my favourite people to talk to and hear talk: she is highly intelligent, articulate, thoughtful and insightful. She loves to talk about ideas and concepts, and lives and breathes education – effective pedagogy and teaching and learning are her lifeblood. I count myself fortunate to have worked with her, because I have learnt so much from her, and have loved hearing her reflections on things which either challenge or support me (often both).
Jayne obviously loves literature and English, but more than that, she loves to help others learn and be empowered by what strong imaginative and critical thinking skills can give to a person. In both her role as a tutor and a teacher, she has nurtured and cared for the students she has in her classes, treating every student with total fairness and attentiveness. Her comments and feedback are always written with the eye on the horizon, reflecting both on what has gone well, but what more is needed for the young person to realise their full potential. She sets the bar high, and asks a lot, but this comes from a place of total devotion to her craft and a reverence for the task of teaching. She expects and believes in her students’ abilities to attain excellence, and works extremely hard to create conditions in which this can take place. Jayne may be a bit of a maverick, but she also loves ritual and tradition. Her tutor group has loved her cold water plunge yearly challenge, and I know how her Further Studies English class student’s love their bookmarks.
Jayne’s love of stories extends far beyond the classroom, ultimately, it’s her mode of operating. She has an astonishing library of anecdotes and has the amazing ability to illuminate a point with a reference to either something in literature or film etc, or to adventures and experiences of her own. I will miss her travel anecdotes and reminisces of the lives she has lived – like the time she lived in a monastery in London, or teaching the son of Paul Simonon of The Clash, or, as I recently learned just yesterday, of the time she got robbed in Nuremberg of all her money and took to doing the laundry of fellow hostel guests to make ends meet.