Friday Headlines

the weekly newsletter from Dr Ruth Weeks, Headmistress

EHS bids Dr Weeks a very fond farewell

05 July 2019

It has been a busy and emotional week for everyone at EHS as we mark the impending retirement of our Headmistress, Dr Weeks.

The final days have been a whirlwind of special events and gatherings, orchestrated by girls and staff. Tuesday in particular, was a very special day when the Whole School gathered for an assembly entitled ‘This is your EHS Life, Dr Weeks.’ For each year that Dr Weeks has been Headmistress of EHS, girls presented a snapshot of what was happening in the world and at EHS during her headship. Presentations were accompanied by performances from some of the musical productions from Prep and Senior School, some girls had also written special pieces for Dr Weeks and the Senior School Poet Laureate read a poem she had written for the occasion. The assembly was topped off with a surprise visit from former EHS pupil Malala Yousafzai.

At the end of term, staff gathered to wish Dr Weeks well in her retirement. Here, we share excerpts from an encomium to Dr Weeks by Mrs Rees, Deputy Head Academic:

Dr Weeks’ final assembly (a quick calculation suggests she has probably led over 1,200) after 13 years has drawn to a close and whilst she is not leaving us today - we get to hold onto her for several more weeks yet - this being the end of term, it is the last time that we will be all gathered here together to thank her for her service and to wish her every happiness for a very well-deserved retirement.   
  
Edgbaston High School has changed and moved forwards under the auspices of our modern Head’s wise guidance and leadership. She has, justifiably, earnt the title of ‘the wise Dr.’, as proclaimed by the Good Schools Guide. 
 
Under Dr Week’s leadership, the school has changed in many ways: even a few examples would demonstrate not only Ruth’s vision but also her skills such as her creativity, for example in creating spaces and fabulous facilities where none seem possible,  the Hexagon a case in point. Her many achievements are significant, however, to enumerate these would be to obfuscate Ruth’s true accomplishment and legacy to the school.   
 
As term comes to an end, staff have been keen to share their lasting memories of Dr Weeks and we share a few with you here: 

“My lasting memory was during the Summer Term 2017 before an assembly.  Everyone was in the Hall and we heard Ruth laughing outside and a ripple of laughter entered the hall and was passed on by the girls through the hall, like energy being passed through a metallic structure.  It was a moment of unity and empathy that was typical of EHS and demonstrated the affection that the girls have for Ruth.”
 
This affection was evident in the special assembly on Tuesday and most particularly in the poem of our poet laureate, Emily Hurst. The girls spoke gratefully of Dr Weeks’ ability to see and nurture their individual potential, and this is something, which extends to all staff too.  
 
The warmth and friendliness, the good humour which imbues all Dr Weeks does, has been a model to us all and has earned the respect and admiration of each and every one of us. However tough the day, she always has a smile, and she sets the tone for the day for girls and staff alike.   
 
Ruth is undoubtedly a people person.  

Dr Weeks takes the time to get to know, and then remember, the person behind the professional in all of us and doesn’t forget the details, even when perhaps we have! There were common themes in all the memories and stories submitted by staff: how she makes sure you are looked after, acts very quickly and in a really professional manner, and time and time, again:  “She is very understanding and very warm.”
 
Dr Weeks understands the importance of family and this has been something that she has held as a core value. We know that she is retiring to now spend more time with her own family (rather than her school family) - and we wish her every happiness in return for the same happiness she has given to others.   
 
She has managed to unite different people, who want different things, instilling a sense of Community throughout the school and bringing everyone together. She has valued and, indeed, sought everyone’s ideas and input - turning the kernel of an idea into a reality, changing the impossible into possible, even when the person proposing the idea doesn’t have any idea how to do it.  
 
Headship is not always easy.  It can be very lonely and the darkest of days, testing.  

Her personal strength and the foundations of community which she has established have enabled her to lead us through, together, supporting each other in these times. We think of course of pupils and staff we have lost. Her resilience and compassion abounded.    
 
Unwavering commitment 

Dr Weeks’ commitment to education, the girls and the school extends far beyond the walls of EHS. She has chaired the Girls Schools’ Association (GSA) Education committee, been an active member of Ofqual and responded to every DfE / GSA consultation, as well as supporting the local St George’s Primary school. For many of us, today marks the start of the summer holiday and several weeks break from work and thoughts of school. Not so for Dr Weeks.  As I said at the beginning, we are not losing her yet!  
   
A member of Senior School speaks on behalf of us all:

"Dear Ruth, a heartfelt thank you for being so understanding in the various ups and downs, twists and turns of my professional and personal life... I always felt I could talk to you and that you would listen with kindness and compassion. As you tell the girls, this is not goodbye, it is only an ‘au revoir’ - we hope that you will come and visit us and stay in touch."  We expect it!  

It is with a real sense of loss that we see Ruth go. Whilst we are going to miss our Headmistress - we are much more going to miss Dr Ruth Weeks, the person, the mentor, the friend.  
 
Ruth, from us all - thank you. 

Mrs Rees
Deputy Head Academic

A copy of the presentation from the special assembly: Dr Weeks, This is Your Life

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