The very best of the area’s teachers, students and educational support staff have been honoured in the annual Derbyshire Times Best in Schools Awards.
An inspirational pupil, a dedicated lunchtime assistant and a dancing lollipop man were among the winners who have gone the extra mile.
Assistant editor Nancy Fielder said: “Judging these awards proved a really tough task because there are so many fantastic people in Derbyshire’s schools.
“We are delighted to have been able to shine a light on the wonderful work that goes on day in, day out - often without any thanks or praise.
“This was a night to show just how proud we all should be of our both the adults and pupils who are doing such a brilliant job. There were plenty of joyful tears and we were all humbled by such heartwarming stories of dedication and determination.”
Celebrations took place for deserving winners which included remarkable teachers, a supportive volunteer, promising young sports stars an “exceptional” pair of admin assistants who supported an 11-year-old girl when her mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Nominees enjoyed a heart-warming event at the Proact Stadium and awards were dished out in 13 categories ranging from most improved student, cleaner of the year and most environmental school.
The celebration, hosted by Chesterfield business boss Steve Smith, saw attendees tuck in to a menu of roast pork, all the trimmings and profiteroles.
Most improved student award, sponsored by Chesterfield College: Dana Hunt of Heritage High School
When Dana first started school she was incredibly disruptive. From the start of year ten she decided to make a change and started working as a library assistant. She was not expected to last the full term trail period but her determination and hard work was a wonderful surprise.
Dana was an excellent library assistant, she was hard working, efficient and very reliable.
She turned up on time to every shift and also began to work hard and show a dedicated attitude to her studies.
She started to attend extra sessions in math’s and science and has been motivated to pursue a career as a nurse.
After collecting her award Dana, aged 16, said: “I was very surprised. I was honoured to hear what people think and very grateful.”
Best lunchtime assistant, sponsored by University of Derby, Buxton:
Chris Witham of Parkside Community School
Described as a “valuable asset” to Parkside Community School. Not only is she a lunch-time supervisor, she is a friend, a shoulder to cry on, a laughter buddy and a good listener to all pupils.
She is supportive and cares for all the children and their lives.
She works hard to try and ensure all the children are happy and safe and provides outstanding student support. Chris always is ready to offer advice, support and a shoulder to lean on.
Most environmental school of the year, sponsored by BHP Chartered Accountants: Matlock All Saints Junior School
The school has a close association with Matlock in Bloom. It regularly wins Best School Grounds in the annual awards.
Children play an active part in maintaining the gardens and growing vegetables and selling the school produce, they have their own eco school committee, hold eco days and learn about alternative energy from the solar panels on the roof. They’ve also been awarded the Eco Green Flag.
Special recognition award: Shirland Primary
The school opened their brand new state of the art building in 2011 and saw changes environmentally.
They now use rainwater to flush the toilets they do lots of recycling and have compost bins to make their own compost. They do lots of work and learn about being eco friendly.
Cleaner/ caretaker of the year, sponsored by Domino’s:
Whether the job is big or small our winner tonight takes it all in her stride and there is never anything that is ever too much to ask of her, she never complains and always goes the extra mile for pupils, teachers and the school.
She is also one of the schools lunchtime assistants and always gives 150 per cent in everything she does and doesn’t realise how special she is but the people that nominated her thinks she’s very special and believes she deserves this award.
Best secretary/admin assistant award, sponsored by University of Buxton, Derby:
Angela Scholey and Sharon Jenkins
The winners were nominated by the grandmother of a girl that attends Whitecotes Primary.
She said: “The support they have given us and our eleven-year-old granddaughter when her mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer was outstanding and has continued since her mother unfortunately lost her battle with cancer.”
The new head teacher to the school, Sue Beckett said: “Both Sharon and Angela show exceptional warmth and understanding for all the children at Whitecotes Primary School, they make the school feel like one big family and every single child is special and important.”
Best sports team of the year, sponsored by Frankie & Benny’s:
Old Hall Junior Kwik Cricket Team
Year six teacher Steve Lawrence has been running the cricket teams at Old Hall for 12 years during which time his teams have met with remarkable success.
His boys team have won the Chesterfield Primary School Kwik Cricket tournament on ten out of the last twelve years.
In addition, they have been crowned county champions three times plus East Midlands champions and national finalists twice.
His girls team has met with numerous successes too.
This year has been another exceptional year.
Steve has been the inspiration behind hundreds of youngsters many of whom have progressed from Old Hall to play for local club sides.
Collecting the award for the school Jack Barker, Charles Loveland, James Sadler and Maisy Everley all aged 11, said they were extremely proud and thanked all their team mates who were not present.
Individual sports player of the year, sponsored by Chesterfield College: Lauren Hill
Lauren has had a fantastic year all round both sporting and academically.
In sporting terms she’s achieved numerous personal bests which led to her winning a number of competitions.
This year alone she has won hammer in the county athletics championships and achieved the English schools distance in the U15 girls distance in her first year for hammer.
She has achieved the inters distance as well and is ranked fourth in UK for hammer and is top five for javelin.
Representing her school at a high level she also regularly represents her athletics club Chesterfield and District.
She manages to achieve all this while also maintaining extremely high standards at school and participating in a range of other school teams.
Lauren’s proud mum Lisa collected the award for Lauren who was competing in Birmingham.
Tearful Lisa said she was very proud of Lauren and that her daughter’s dream was to get to the Olympics.
Best breakfast/after school club, sponsored by The Derbyshire Times: Ashover Primary School Breakfast and After School Club
Ashover breakfast and after school club is so popular it sometimes cannot accommodate everyone that asks to attend.
One parent said: “I cannot describe enough the impact that Ashover breakfast and after school club has had on my life. I was training to be a nurse which involved early starts. My shifts often beginning long before the school start time and finish much after the school day.
“I have always felt that my child was looked after and I have never ever felt that my child was unsafe.”
Our special recognition went to:
St Andrews Kids Club, in Dronfield
Children are often disappointed when their parents collect them from St Andrews Kids Club they love it so much.
There’s always a choice of crafts, games and outdoor play which changes on a daily basis keeping them entertained and educated, a nutritious breakfast and an early evening snack are provided each day for the children as well.
Teaching assistant of the year, sponsored by One to One Support Services: Elaine Graham
Elaine has worked at Westfield Infant School for over 40 years and is now teaching the “next generation” of children whose parents attended Westfield themselves.
Her nominator said: “I have never heard anyone – pupil, parent or colleagues utter a negative comment about Elaine. However, having known her as long as I have, this is not a surprise. She welcomes everyone into our school with a smile.”
Elaine has not only nurtured thousands of children during her time at Westfield, but colleagues too. She has a gift of sharing her vast experience with staff in a supportive, non-threatening way.
After collecting her award Elaine said: “I wasn’t expecting it at all. I think awards such as these are great and there are so many deserving winners.”
Special recognition went to:
Bridget Margereson of Tupton Hall School
One parent who nominated Bridget Margereson said: “She is wonderful there are no words to describe her.
“When my youngest daughter Natasha went to secondary school, she found it exceptionally hard, due to bullying. Natasha wasn’t sleeping, was being ill at home and at school and it was getting to a point we were really worried about Natasha’s health and schooling as the issues were having a major impact. Bridget stepped in to deal with the issues, mentored Natasha on a one-to-one basis to help her with her confidence. She kept us informed on a daily and weekly basis. Now Natasha is thriving in the last term of her first year at secondary school. All thanks to Bridget.”
Best crossing patrol person, sponsored by The Derbyshire Times:
The winner proved he is king of the road after his roadside gyrations proved a massive hit with the school children.
He started getting into the groove as a way to keep warm in cold mornings but his moves fast made him a local hero and earned him the nickname of Jolly Lolly.
He even has an unofficial fan club of schoolchildren and passing motorists who toot their horn as they drive past his crossing.
Alan said the best part of the job is getting the kids across safely but added if he can make people happy while he does that’s a bonus.
Alan was unable to attend the event due to prior commitments but the Derbyshire Times ensured he received his trophy the next day.
Teacher of the year, sponsored by Domino’s:
Steven Newton, from Heritage High School
Mr Newton received various nominations from his pupils.
Here’s a few of the things they had to say: “Mr Newton is a true inspiration to everyone he meets, he motivates us all, is very helpful, is always determined for everyone to do well, has tolerated me for three years, he’s cool, funny, kind, nice, amazing, skilful, happy, helpful, amazing motivator, the saviour of ICT and wears cool ties.”
After collecting his award he said: “I was very surprised and not expecting it at all. There are so many people that deserve the award.
“It’s a fantastic job, the students are great to teach and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Our special recognition went to:
Chris Vallance of Newbold Community School
Also nominated by pupils Mr Vallance was described as “the most caring teacher in our school and would do absolutely anything for anyone.”
Pupils also said: “He is Inspirational and without him I don’t know where year 11 would be. An absolutely amazing individual with all the help he provided.”
Best headteacher award, sponsored by Barber, Harrison and Platt:
Gillian Oldfield, of Holmesdale Infant, Dronfield
Mrs Oldfield is retiring in July and her students put their thoughts into a poem
“We are sadly saying goodbye to our brilliant head this year, As she retires, puts her feet up and packs all her holiday gear.
“She’s a true inspiration that will be truly missed. She’s happy, smiley, funny, I hope you get the gist.
“Every day there’s always a big smile on her face, She really makes our school an amazing place.
“All the children love her and will miss her so much. All those lives that she’s given the ‘Oldfield touch’. Mrs Oldfield can be described in many ways. Like amazing, exceptional, superb and magnificent. She even got a double of Ofsted OUTSTANDING – truly brilliant! She really is the best head by far, An unforgettable teaching star!”
After collecting her award Mrs Oldfield said: “I’m honoured. The staff have managed to keep this very quiet. It’s an amazing school with fantastic staff and children.”
Special recognition awards were presented to: Geoff Leyland, of Sharley Park and Sue Kelcey, of Taddington School, who are both also retiring.
Mr Leyland was described as “tenacious, dedicated, inspiring and has transformed the schooling in Clay Cross. He is always putting the children at the heart of the community, this will be sadly missed when he retires in July.”
Mr Kelcey was described as “fantastic, consistent, active head for many years. Never getting ‘stuck in a rut’ letting every child know that they are important and loved. She instills the motto of ‘we care about each other’ into the daily life at school.”