Saffron Walden history teacher given lifetime achievement accolade
11:47 29 January 2014
He is an intellectual. He is a historian. He is a cultured man. But more importantly than that he is deeply caring.
The words of the colleagues who nominated long-serving Saffron Walden County High teacher Nigel Wills for a lifetime achievement award, adding that he has “always put himself last and his students and the staff first”.
Last week history teacher Mr Wills was recognised for his 39 years of service after receiving the accolade at the Essex Teaching Awards 2014.
Reacting to the news, he told the Reporter: “It was a very humbling experience to receive the award, especially as I was nominated without my knowledge.
“Working in education today is both challenging and demanding but there are huge rewards in watching students mature and become independent as they progress through the school.
“I have been fortunate to work in a place where so many people, regardless of role or responsibility, are eager to do their very best to support the students.”
He added: “Looking back, like so many who reflect on their career, it is easy to see the things which one would do differently. But the real bonus now is exchanging news in the community with so many that I have taught and whose children, and dare I say it grandchildren, are now here at the school.”
Mr Wills has also acted as a governor, chairman of the PTA, Duke of Edinburgh organiser, housemaster and trustee of the Saffron Trust. In his role as year achievement co-ordinator he has guided an estimated 1,800 students from Year 7 to Year 11.
Paying tribute to Mr Wills’ achievement, headteacher John Hartley called him a “hugely knowledgeable and enthusiastic history teacher who has guided generations of our students”.
He said: “Perhaps of equal importance has been the love and passion for history that many have acquired and which they will carry into their adult life.
“For the students in his year groups nothing has ever been too much trouble for him; whether it is supporting a team from the touchline or diligently telephoning parents well into the evening to sort out a pastoral issue.
“He has always sought to find the best in each child and to build out from there. I know from the many comments I have had from students and parents how much they have valued and appreciated his warm, caring, committed leadership. I have no doubt that he has made a real difference to many students’ futures.”
Mr Wills was nominated by deputy headteacher Jen Sims and assistant head Helen Dale. The awards evening was hosted at the Lord Ashcroft International Business School at Anglia Ruskin University.
The Essex Teaching Awards were open for nominations during October and November, over 100 nominations were received from headteachers, governing bodies and students.