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News & Blogs: In Memoriam

Former colleagues and friends remember Joyce Wakenshaw

jeudi, 30 avril 2015   (0 Comments)
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The sun shone on Pregny yesterday afternoon as former colleagues, friends and students of Joyce Wakenshaw gathered to pay tribute to her at the school she led for so many years. As Director of the United Nations School at Pregny-Rigot from 1959, she oversaw its 1975 merger with the Foundation of the International School of Geneva. She went on to serve the Foundation in a number of roles until her retirement in 1990. She died in July last year at the age of 85.

Cyril Ritchie speaking at the Joyce Wakenshaw Memorial, Pregny School, 29 April 2015

Ecolint Director General Vicky Tuck opened the proceedings, welcoming the assembled guests, many of whom had travelled from abroad. Others to speak included Cyril Ritchie, former chairman of the UN School and Gordon Roberts, a former teacher and vice-principal at Pregny. Both paid tribute to Joyce Wakenshaw's unwavering dedication to her students and staff, noting in particular her openness to innovative teaching methods and her firm belief in the importance of having "the child at the centre".

Gordon Roberts

One of her former students, Melaye Ras-Work, also spoke. She recalled arriving at the school in the mid-70s to find the warm and welcoming environment that Ms Wakenshaw had created. She said that it was at Pregny that she "learned to love learning"; and having completed most of her own schooling at Ecolint, she brought her family back to Geneva specifically so that her children could attend the school she remembers so fondly. (She also now serves on the Ecolint Governing Board herself.)

"Infinity", a sculpture to remember Joyce Wakenshaw and Carole Tempest.

The last word went to the person that today fills Joyce Wakenshaw's shoes, Pregny School principal Becci Lee. She assured those present, many of whom had taught at Pregny themselves, that a child-centred education remains the ultimate aim of the school today. She invited them to visit the plaque honouring Joyce Wakenshaw*, which includes the prophetic words that she wrote when the school was in its infancy: "Cooperation built this school; children will build its reputation."

>> See also: Former Pregny-Rigot director Joyce Wakenshaw dies aged 85


* The plaque is mounted in the garden in front of Pregny School, beneath a sculpture named Infinity. It is mounted alongside another plaque remembering former teacher Carole Tempest, who died in 1994. Melaye Ras-Work mentioned Miss Tempest as having been particularly influential as her teacher in Classes 3 and 4.


The Sculpture

Infinity, the sculpture beneath which Joyce Wakenshaw's memorial plaque is mounted, was created by Verena (Wachsmuth) Darmon (LGB '81), who sadly died in 2008. Retired teacher Stella Best sent us this information about her:

"Verena Wachsmuth was in my 5th grade class from 1973-74. I believe her family came from Germany when her father was employed by one of the international organisations. After leaving school, Verena started at the University in Geneva taking medical studies. However, she had already started helping and working with a sculptor and it seems she was so enthralled that she decided this was to be her future, and so gave up her medical studies before taking the finals. I met up again with her when visiting her exhibitions, often held in the Botanical Gardens.She was a gifted artist."

Verena Wachsmuth
Verena Wachsmuth (LGB '81) pictured with her sculpture "Infinity".

Former Ecolint teachers reading this are warmly invited to contribute to our new blog "Former Staff: Then & Now". Simply download the questionnaire (English / French) and return it to the Alumni Office.

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