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Mary Zimmerman-Bayer is the new Lakenheath Middle School principal.

Mary Zimmerman-Bayer is the new Lakenheath Middle School principal. (Geoff Ziezulewicz / S&S)

Mary Zimmerman-Bayer is the new Lakenheath Middle School principal and recent transplant to the U.K. after 25 years in the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe circuit in Germany. Stripes sat down with Zimmerman-Bayer to chat about her impressions of her new school, living in the U.K., and why a school located on RAF Feltwell is known as Lakenheath Middle.

Welcome! So where were you before, and how long have you been here in the U.K.?

I was in Stuttgart, Würzburg, Kitzingen, Schweinfurt, Wiesbaden and Grafenwöhr. I arrived here in August, about a month ago.

What’s your impression of the schooling going on here in the U.K. so far?

I see a real focus of the families on education that was very evident with the open house and the questions they asked. I think living here in the country has a calming influence. There’s something to be said about working in such a calm atmosphere.

Any unique challenges to the new year?

The number one challenge we have is to prepare our school to get a dynamite evaluation in April [by AdvancEd, a school accreditation service]. That’ll be the main thing as our yearlong goal. Teachers and students are already focused on the business of learning, what they do every day.

What’s your take on the U.K. in general?

Very friendly, helpful people. I think they’re focused on what’s important in life, the daily routines. It’s much slower in a healthy way. I love the gardens, the small towns and the afternoon tea custom. And London is the greatest city in the world.

Any big surprises so far?

[Laughing] It takes a long time to get things done! That’s the down side to the slow life.

So you’re leading Lakenheath Middle now. Why is it named "Lakenheath" when it is so obviously situated on Feltwell?

Good question. I don’t know how that was decided.

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