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.
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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Mum Amanda said: “Without this amazing woman, I would not have found the support we needed. She has gone above and beyond the call of duty and has reduced so much stress.
“If I was ever asked who had the greatest influence on me as a parent, it would be this woman. She is a walking angel and deserves to win.”
She said that Beverly helped with an action plan which even included walking to school with the family.
“She has arranged many meetings for us and chased up organisations, when she felt they were not being supportive,” said Amanda.
“She has helped Oscar to feel more comfortable and less anxious. He is now in Year 1 and doing incredibly well. She has directed us on our way to a diagnosis of autism and ADHD which is ongoing.”
Competition winner Beverly, 38, said she was overwhelmed to be named winner of the YEP competition.
The mum-of-two, from Farsley, said: “I am surprised and delighted. It is amazing to hear that I have made such a difference to this family’s life.
“I am so glad to know I have helped in some way. It is not the normal sort of thing to go to pupils’ houses on a morning but it was the right thing in this situation.
“We have made a lot of progress with Oscar. I am not sure what I will spend the money on but probably some of it on holiday clothes.”
She wins a £500 gift card to spend at the White Rose Shopping Centre.
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’.
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As a special thank you the winner Bev Halliday, from Lane End Primary in Beeston, receives a £500 gift card for the White Rose Centre.
This can be used in more than 100 shops and restaurants inside the centre, as well as the 11-screen Cineworld with IMAX and Screen X technology.
Steven Foster, general manager at White Rose Shopping Centre, said: “We are delighted to help the pupils and parents of Leeds say a big
thank you to their inspirational teaching staff.
"From mounds of marking, to building children’s confidence through learning and much more, we recognise the influential impact classroom staff have.
“We are honoured to give the winner an extra-special summer gift to thank her for her tireless dedication and expertise.
"She has made such a difference to the life of Oscar and his family."
Shortlist of finalists
Lisa Weaver, of Snapethorpe Primary, Wakefield
Gemma 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
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 to
fidget 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 and
communication difficulties. Their progression is phenomenal, both with their speech and language
needs 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
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, Tingley
Mum 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 to
show 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 very
“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.”