A “much loved” headteacher is retiring from a school in Garston.

Sheila Marlin O’Neill, principal of High Elms Manor Montessori, High Elms Lane, Garston, is retiring at 77, after 50 years of teaching and opening Montessori schools across Hertfordshire and north London.

Ms Marlin O’Neill opened her first Montessori nursery after graduating from the A.M.I Training College in Hampstead in 1967.

After opening more than dozen Montessori pre-schools Ms Marlin O’Neill opened her first elementary school using the method, St Andrews Montessori School, in Bushey.

The school was forced to relocate to the Garston Manor Rehabilitation Centre in High Elms, which required a great deal of restoration work to bring it up to the standards required.

Watford Observer:

June Coombs, a special needs teacher at the school, said: "The whole school is sad to see Sheila finally retire.

"She has been guiding the school like a ship's captain for so many years it will be hard to imagine it without her.

"Over the past 50 years she has demonstrated her love of children and a conviction that Montessori system gives them the best start in life and so many of her past pupils owe her so much for that.

"She has been an inspiration to so many and has retained staff for decades. Her legacy will be continued by three of her daughters who will continue to run the school as a partnership."

Ms Coombs also said Ms Marlin O’Neill was “delighted” as children sang songs for her, specifically written for her send off.

Students old and new joined together to say goodbye to Ms Marlin O’Neill, and created a banner reading “thank you for giving us a good start in life”.

Ms Marlin O’Neill, who retires due to her health, has said she will continue to write books in her retirement and will leave the running of the school to three of her daughters.