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News > Staff > Teacher Feature: Felicity Rix (2008-2022)

Teacher Feature: Felicity Rix (2008-2022)

We heard from Junior School teacher, Felicity Rix about her time teaching at Hymers College
2 May 2023
Staff

How many years did you teach at Hymers College and when?

I taught for 14 happy years at Hymers. I first joined the Junior School staff in 2008 on a temporary one term contract. That was followed by supply in the geography department in the Senior School and a maternity cover post in the Junior School before I became a permanent member of the Junior School staff in 2011.

My son, who was by this stage in the Senior School, had mixed feelings about his mother joining the staff; on the one hand it was immensely useful to have Mum on site for signing letters he had forgotten to bring home or to dish out dinner money but having Mum join his GCSE Geography field trip went down like a lead balloon. He never did work out how to address me in Geography lessons and cursed me when I set challenging homework tasks or asked him to be interviewed by enthusiastic Year 4s for a history investigation!

Exploring New Mexico

What was your role at Hymers College?

Upon my permanent employment in 2011 I became a Team Leader and joined the management team in the Junior School; a role I absolutely loved. It was so rewarding to work with a cohort of children for their full three years in the Junior School, to see them flourish from their first tentative days with us, to being confident, well rounded individuals by the end of Year 6. In latter years, I reverted to being a full time form teacher and chose for the last two years of my career to go part time.

How have things changed since you first started?

The most obvious change is the addition of Year 3 to the Junior School. It is something I always championed as a team leader and I am sorry to have retired before it happened. 

When I first started at Hymers, the focus was very much on acquisition of facts in academic lessons. I was proud to be part of a shift to skills-based learning, implementing the principles of growth mindset and habits of mind thinking in our teaching to enable all children to feel confident and aspirational in their learning and to develop skills that would serve them well in life beyond the school gates.

Year 6 had always put on a big production to celebrate the end of their time in the Junior School and it was wonderful to see Peter Doyle extend drama to all year groups not long after I arrived. As a team leader, one of the most daunting aspects of the job was being tasked with directing a year group production each year. Daunting it may have been but it turned out to be one of the most fulfilling experiences of my time at Hymers. Every single child in the year group would have an acting part which often involved considerable rewriting of playscripts. Drama gave so many children the chance to shine and develop their confidence which then fed into other areas of learning.

What are your favourite memories of teaching at Hymers?

I have so many happy memories of my time at Hymers that it is difficult to single out favourites. The bond that you develop with the children in your form is very special and I have so many happy memories of working with numerous wonderful children throughout the Junior School. I particularly loved the laughter that often played a large part in our lessons, particularly when any child used the word “nice”. As anyone who has been taught English by me in the Junior School will know, the word “nice” was banned in my lessons and anyone caught using it would set off an eruption of the fictional “Rix volcano” (me executing a very over the top impression of a volcanic eruption) and be challenged to find a suitable synonym in order to extinguish the fire. Much hilarity resulted but so did much healthier vocabularies!

Themed weeks and World Book Day always offered the unmissable opportunity for both staff and children to dress up and I have many happy memories of driving to school dressed as Cruella, Hiawatha, a Rubix cube or a Victorian school teacher and hoping that I didn’t breakdown and require assistance.

Felicity Rix and Andy Taylor on World Book Day

Do you have any favourite trip stories?

My favourite trips of all time were the Year 5 Normandy trips, lead every Easter by my colleague, Andy Taylor. The Chateau du Perron became like a second home as I returned again and again. Andy is so passionate and knowledgeable about the events of World War II and in particular the Normandy landings. He has a veritable treasure trove of stories about individuals which he tells with such detail and emotion that he has his audiences, young and not so young, enthralled. This was often the first time that many of the children had been abroad without family and it was wonderful to see so many grow in confidence and develop new friendships as well as acquiring a love of history and an inquisitive mind. 

One year, I caused much laughter amongst the children when steam created whilst drying my hair set off the Chateau fire alarm at 6.00 am (apparently just as, down the corridor, Mr Taylor was about to enjoy a soak in the bath) and everyone had to troop outside in their pyjamas. A couple of nights later, the alarm went off again and as we all assembled outside in the cold and dark at 2am, one child was heard to say, “Mrs Rix has been drying her hair again!”. This time it was an electrical fault in the Chateau basement that was to blame rather than me.

I also went on many Year 5 and Year 6 Windermere residential trips which were immense fun, even if a good night’s sleep was difficult to come by; the sprung floor of the ageing accommodation block combined with the water torture emanating from the plumbing system both served to make sleep impossible when the girls got up one by one to go to the toilet throughout the night. I discovered a love of ziplining on one of these trips and can swing through tree top rope courses like a chimpanzee after being told that the children could only go up if accompanied by staff.

New York, September 2022

If you hadn't been a teacher, what would you have done instead?

I haven’t always been a teacher and do have other strings to my bow. I began my working life after university as a flight controller for British Caledonian Airways at Gatwick Airport. Then I went on to sell marine fuel oil for a Belgian Oil Company before deciding to move into teaching after I had my own family.

What have you done since you left Hymers College?

I have only been retired since April 2022 so it is early days yet but I have been indulging my passion for foreign travel and hope to continue to do so. I am also enjoying walking in the local countryside with my loyal Labrador, Hudson, by my side and am helping my son, Harry, with his new puppy.

With son, Harry and Raffy, the new puppy

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