Dozens of tributes have been paid to an “extremely talented” teaching assistant who has died.

Tracy Lear, a specialist teaching assistant and maths instructor at Alderman Peel High School (APHS), part of the Wensum Trust, had worked there for more than 20 years.

Following her death, Mrs Lear's family has organised for an annual maths award in her memory to be given to a pupil at the Wells-based school on the north Norfolk coast.

Principal Alastair Ogle described her as a “loved and respected” member of staff adored by both her colleagues and pupils.

He said: “Tracy was kind, thoughtful, caring and had an amazing ability to make children realise that they could be more successful than they had previously believed. She was an extremely talented professional as a teaching assistant and maths instructor.

“The staff and students were incredibly shocked and deeply, deeply saddened to hear of her passing. Our thoughts are with her husband, children and her wider family at this time.”

Tracy Anne Lear was born on February 24, 1966, and attended APHS as a student between 1978 and 1982. From September 1997, she worked there and at Wells Library as a cleaner.

In September 2005, she became employed at APHS as a part-time teaching assistant, supporting students with special educational needs.

Committed to improving her own knowledge and skills, she obtained an NVQ Level 3 in Teaching and Learning. Recognising her gift for motivating and inspiring children, she became employed full-time.

Her natural talent saw her progress to maths instructor. As well as supporting individual students with significant learning challenges, she also helped groups and entire classes. Her children, Jack and George, were also taught at APHS.

Colleague Lisa Yarham paid tribute to her “best friend”. She said: “Tracy was the go-to friend when you needed a chat. She always listened and supported you without judgement.

“I will always treasure her spin on life, making us crease with laughter. One of the happiest human beings I’ve known.”

Teacher, Hannah Barker, said: “Tracy was a much-loved member of the maths department and a dear friend to us all. She was hugely respected by staff and students alike, offering invaluable support and encouragement to everyone she worked with. Her passing has left a huge heart-shaped hole in the Maths department.”

And Kim Gibson, lifelong friend and colleague, said she had “many cherished memories”.

“Tracy was a lovely, caring, fun person and a great friend who was very proud of her family. I really miss her.”

Mrs Lear has been described as being “pragmatic and resourceful” while excelling in her work, allowing her role to grow substantially over recent years. It is said that she loved the crafty and creative sides of maths.

Bill Boyce, head of maths, said: “Tracy leaves us at the height of her powers, at the very top of her game, a well-liked and highly respected colleague to all and a friend and confidante to those with whom she worked most closely.”

Head of English, Sarah Murkin, added: “Tracy had a way of connecting with others. A kind, compassionate listener, guide and teacher to so many young people, whilst being a friend - with a wicked sense of humour.”

Following an announcement from the school, pupils carried out a "star from a circle" activity to allow students to leave a message to Mrs Lear on it. All of the stars and messages have been passed on to the family to be placed with her.

Finally, vice-principal Matt Hardman said: “Tracy helped countless students achieve grades in maths that will have opened doors for them and given them better prospects and brighter hope for the future.

“The impact she has had on young people's lives over the past 20 years is truly immeasurable.”

Mrs Lear died suddenly following a tragic accident on November 7. She leaves behind her husband Ian and their children. Her funeral was held on November 26 at St Nicholas Church, Wells.

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