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Death of popular headteacher 17 May 2010

THE Department of Education and Children is deeply saddened by the death of Vicky Dassoulas, the Headteacher of Anagh Coar Primary School.

Mrs Dassoulas died in the early hours of today following a brave battle with a serious illness. She leaves her husband, Chris Lang, who she had recently married, and her grown-up children George, James and Beth, to whom she was a devoted mother. Vicky Dassoulas

She had been in the teaching profession for more than 30 years and was appointed headteacher at Anagh Coar in March 2009 after 16 years on the staff there. Prior to that she taught at Onchan Primary School for three years and in Greece for 13 years.

Martin Barrow, Senior Adviser with the DEC, said:

‘Mrs Dassoulas began her Manx teaching career in 1990 at Onchan School and was appointed to Anagh Coar School in 1993 as subject leader for Maths and ICT, becoming, in turn, Key Stage 2 leader, Deputy Headteacher and then Headteacher.
‘Throughout her career as a teacher on the Island she contributed fully to the life of whichever school she was working at and was always willing to share her skills and expertise with others. She played significant roles in the development of both ICT and mathematics in primary schools on the Island,’

Mr Barrow said.

‘Her enthusiasm as a ‘Laptop Literacy’ trainer and later as a member of the Department’s ‘X Team’ of ICT trainers for seven years was infectious and many colleagues will remember the help and support they received.’

Her ICT role saw Mrs Dassoulas involved in the successful 1-2-1 trial in which laptop computers were rolled out to Key Stage 2 pupils and this led to Anagh Coar School being invited to the Be Very Afraid exhibition in London. Mrs Dassoulas attended the event, held at Bafta, along with two of her pupils, and she appeared in the event’s official DVD, which was distributed to 20,000 schools.

‘Mrs Dassoulas also played a key role in the development of materials to support teacher assessment in mathematics and in the construction of materials to support transition from primary to secondary schools,’ Mr Barrow said.
‘However, despite her wider role in education, it was Anagh Coar School that was closest to her heart. Her commitment to the school and its pupils was absolute and she regarded being appointed its headteacher as one of her proudest moments. It is very sad that she had very little time to enjoy that role but her legacy at the school will live on through the generations of children who have benefited from her teaching, guidance and support.’

The staff of Anagh Coar School said:

‘Vicky made us all feel like part of the family from day one, guided and supported us in everything we wanted to do and saw the funny side of every situation. You always knew where you were with her as she was straight down the line.
‘Throughout her illness she showed her love and commitment to the school by coming in when she was not feeling at her fittest. She was determined to do the job she was appointed to do and had worked hard towards her whole career.
‘Anagh Coar School is like one big family and Vicky, as head of this family, will be sadly missed by all.’

Karen Boyle, parent governor of the school, added her own tribute, saying:

‘Vicky worked towards extending the Anagh Coar family beyond the school walls by involving all the parents in school life. She was informal but nonetheless professional with parents and was on first name terms with most. Having been at the school for 16 years, she knew many of the families well and her open door policy was often taken up by parents popping in for a chat.’

Jo Richardson was appointed head at Anagh Coar in 2003 and worked with Mrs Dassoulas for five years until she left to take up the headship at Onchan School. She said:

‘Vicky was such a huge personality that her death really will be a huge loss to everyone who knew her, was taught by her or who worked with her.’

The news of Mrs Dassoulas’ death was broken to the school’s staff and 137 pupils this morning. They are all being offered any counselling or support they need during this difficult time.

The school will hold a fundraising day for Rebecca House children’s hospice on Friday and will be wearing brightly coloured clothes and will share their happy memories of Mrs Dassoulas in a special assembly.

Mrs Dassoulas’ wish was that the children remembered her by releasing Chinese lanterns into the sky and the school will gather to do this before the TT break.

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