Buffalo burgers, dream catchers, camping and lots of red and white flags made the perfect send-off for a popular teacher returning to her Canadian homeland after a year in Waterlooville.
Aeryn Hamilton admitted she was sad to be leaving Purbrook Park Juniors, which has been her base for the past year after arranging to swap places with English teacher John Adam.
The 32-year-old, who has been acting as a teaching assistant and teaching French, says: ‘It’s been an amazing year and I will miss the kids desperately.
‘They are all so eager to learn and I hope they’ll remember be as someone who brought some energy and a sense of humour to the classroom!
‘Even though I never imagined I’d enjoy teaching younger children, this experience has inspired me to train to teach in primary schools.’
Miss Hamilton hails from an 800-pupil secondary school in Canada, which is ranked sixth best country in the world for reading, maths and science compared with the UK which comes in at 25th.
She says: ‘The main difference I’ve found is that here in England children are tracked a lot more and tested constantly, unlike in Canada where it’s very laid back and you focus on a topic for as long as it takes.
‘The English system puts a lot of pressure on teachers to cover a lot of ground in a short space of time.
‘But something good that comes out of it is that lessons are much more imaginative and there’s a lot of emphasis on making them fun and interesting, which is something I’ll be taking back home with me.’
Youngsters at Purbrook Juniors may not have been to Canada, but they have certainly learned a lot about its history and culture thanks to Miss Hamilton’s influence.
In Canada Week, for example, they took part in a range of typical Canadian activities such as singing camp fire singing, making dream catchers, re-writing Canadian books from British perspectives, playing board games like Yahtzee and bean-bag curling in PE.
Miss Hamilton says: ‘My time at Purbrook has really opened my eyes. I also hope I’ve opened the eyes of this wonderful school community to what my country is like.’