Inspiring teaching staff from across Leeds honoured in YEP Classroom Heroes competition

The tireless dedication of teachers and teaching staff across Leeds is being highlighted with the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Classroom Heroes 2019 competition. Alison Bellamy reports.

Winner of the YEP Classroom Heroes competition Bev Halliday (left) of Lane Ends Primary with Oscar Sullivan and his mum Amanda, who nominated the SEN support worker.Picture by James Hardisty.
Winner of the YEP Classroom Heroes competition Bev Halliday (left) of Lane Ends Primary with Oscar Sullivan and his mum Amanda, who nominated the SEN support worker.Picture by James Hardisty.

SHE has been described as ‘a walking angel’ by one mum who was struggling to get her son to attend school.Despite having two children of her own, Beverly Halliday, a special educational needs support and autism specialist, thought nothing of going to Oscar Sullivan’s home each morning to encourage him to get ready.Her selfless dedication and commitment to her job has not gone unnoticed and now she is being honoured as your Classroom Hero of 2019, scooping a £500 prize.No matter what she tried, Amanda Sullivan could not persuade Oscar, to attend Lane End Primary in Beeston.His behavioural issues were getting worse and Amanda was at her wits’ end.Mum-of-two Amanda, from south Leeds, nominated Beverly after her pioneering work with six-year-old Oscar, saying she has ‘transformed their lives’.

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Nikki Appleton, marketing manager of the White Rose Shopping Centre presents competition winner Bev Halliday with her 500 prize.

INSPIRING nominations for the Yorkshire Evening Post Classroom Heroes Competition 2019, have poured in to the newsroom.We have heard about some of the Leeds teachers and teaching staff from 362 schools across the city, who are changing lives for the better, with their tireless dedication and commitment.We wanted to hear stories of the people who make a difference and go the extra mile.Hannah Thaxter, editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post, said: “We are humbled to hear of the hard work and commitment which takes place in our schools by teachers and teaching staff.“We have received some heart-warming nominations and heard personal stories from people who have struggled, but have found help from a special person in school."It was a difficult decision but Beverly’s selfless contribution really stands out, and she is the deserving winner.”Nominations have included stories of teachers and education staff who ‘change lives for the better’.

Lisa Weaver, of Snapethorpe Primary, WakefieldGemma Ramsden nominated her colleague Lisa Weaver, a Year 6 teaching assistant at Snapethorpe Primary School, in Wakefield.

Gemma (pictured with Lisa) said: “The kids can be tricky and Lisa’s support is invaluable. The relationship she has with the kids is amazing.“She always goes the extra mile, providing fruit for kids who might be hungry and always offering a listening ear.”Lisa said she was delighted to be shortlisted, adding: “I love my job because of the amazing children. They make me smile everyday. I feel like a proud mother of 29 and love seeing them develop as young people, progress and achieve their goals. I enjoy supporting them to build in confidence and self esteem."I also work with an amazing team.”Rhona Wilkinson, of Beeston Primary School

Kirsty Heys, wellbeing manager at The Lighthouse school, in Cookridge, is a finalist in the YEP Classroom Heroes competition 2019. Picture by James Hardisty.

Mum Julie Harrison nominated Rhona Wilkinson, family support worker from Beeston Primary School for her work with son Archie, ten.She said: “Mrs Wilkinson holds a special place in my son’s heart. She has been a huge support. My son found it extremely difficult not tofidget and could not sit still and got into trouble all the time.“She saw the good in my son and has given him the chance to help other children who need a positive role model.“She has given him confidence to be himself and not the person others want him to be.”Gill Merrill, of Allerton High School

Colleagues say that Gill Merrill, who has just retired, has inspired hundreds of pupils at Allerton High School to 'be their best'.

Sarah McMurrough, who nominated Mrs Merrill, said: “Gill led the Language Resource Provision for 15 years. It supports students from across Leeds with speech, language andcommunication difficulties. Their progression is phenomenal, both with their speech and languageneeds and academically.“For the past two years students have left with GCSEs on average at least two grades above target.“These results, the support that the students received directly from Gill and the way Gill inspired other members of staff to support students in school, is reflected in the ‘outstanding’ grade achieved this year by Allerton High. She was a wonderful colleague and will be greatly missed.”

Kirsty Heys, of the Lighthouse School, Cookridge

Finalist in the YEP Classroom Heroes competition is Lisa Weaver (left) a Year 6 classroom assistant was nominated by her colleague Gemma Ramsden, at Snapethorpe Primary School, in Wakefield.

Mum Tabitha Campbell Beattie has nominated Kirsty Heys, (pictured) the wellbeing manager from the Lighthouse School in Cookridge, for her work with her son Toby, 15.The Lighthouse was Yorkshire’s first Special Free School and the first of its kind in the country, dedicated to young people aged 11 to 19 with an autistic spectrum condition (ASC).Mum Tabitha said: “Lighthouse is an amazing school for children on the autism spectrum. My son has been very challenging and Ms Heys has supported us both. Toby is very smart, cleaver and has a cheeky personality and can make everyone laugh, he is a person you can’t help but be drawn to but can struggle with day to day life.

"He loves everything to do with maths, science and especially gardening. He also is keen on environmental issues and saving the planet."We were very lucky in finding lighthouse school. Toby has come on leaps and bounds and has overcome a lot of struggles. Ms Heys not only has a big heart, but a wonderful personality and works so hard.“She is one of a kind and has been my rock through my lowest times and struggles. If I could have nominated more of the teachers I would, they are all brilliant.“Ms Heys dedication to the school has earned her the utmost respect from not only students but teachers and parents. She deserves to be recognised.”

Tracey Rogers, of Blackgates Primary, TingleyMum Laura Connor nominated Tracey Rogers from Blackgates Primary School, in Tingley, for her work with seven-year-old son Daniel.Laura says: “Daniel was shy and not confident in speaking to anyone, but the work Mrs Rogers carried out in nursery shone through.“His confidence grew in being able to pronounce words and his determination to not stop trying also showed. In year 1 he started toshow a love of books.“If it was not for Mrs Rogers’ determination, patience and help as first time parents going through school, then Daniel would be a verydifferent boy.“We feel very privileged to have had Mrs Rogers teach our child. She is an asset to the school.“The teachers at Blackgates are second to none and the work they do does not go unnoticed.”

Winner of the YEP Classroom Heroes competition Bev Halliday (left) of Lane Ends Primary with Oscar Sullivan and his mum Amanda, who nominated the SEN support worker.Picture by James Hardisty.