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TEACHER OF THE YEAR AWARD: Two more shortlist stars are revealed




This week in our Teacher of the Year awards we reveal two more teachers who have been shortlisted for all the hard work and extra effort they carry out every day in the classroom.

The campaign, sponsored by Discovery Education, is in its penultimate week with the winner being announced on Friday, December 6.

Sharon Shelley has worked at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds for 14 years.

Sharon Shelley government and politics teacher at King Edward VI School with her students. Picture by Mecha Morton.
Sharon Shelley government and politics teacher at King Edward VI School with her students. Picture by Mecha Morton.

She works as a government and politics and history teacher to sixth form students and also runs PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) across the school.

“I did rubbish at school,” Ms Shelley said. “I was useless. It wasn’t until my thirties that I recognised just how ridiculous it was not to do anything.”

Ms Shelley enrolled at West Suffolk College when she was 36 where she studied A-levels and then was accepted into Cambridge University when she was 37.

“I wanted to go into teaching all my life,” she said, “but I lacked the confidence and any sort of self-belief that it was something I could do. The first time I went into a classroom I felt like I had come home. It was amazing and my passion for it has stayed with me since that first moment.”

Ms Shelley previously worked in a school in Hampshire and became head of the history department before moving to Bury St Edmunds in 2005, where she now lives.

She now splits her time between the King Edward campus in Grove Road and Abbeygate Sixth Form, which is currently operating from West Suffolk College in Out Risbygate, while the new building is being built in Beetons Way.

“I feel very grateful,” Ms Shelley said about being nominated for the award, “and I felt quite emotional about it. I sort of feel I do my job.

“Teaching isn’t a job which is confined to the classroom. It is massively important that all
teachers support all of the child’s development.

“I get quite a lot of students who are very able and they’re very focused on their future, so anything I can do to help them then I will do it.”

Shirley Conroy works at Bishop’s Academy in Thetford as a learning catalyst and has been at the school for 17 years.

“My role is to engage with families in the community and build aspirations,” she said.

“I will work with the community – more the adults getting them into the school, working alongside the children – and on emotional support. A lot of families I get on to GCSE courses or adult education if they’re able to do that in school.

“I run a crèche weekly and coffee mornings. Sometimes people just want a chat or some extra support.”

Mrs Conroy also runs two urban dance classes a week and is in the middle of launching a young carers group.

On her nominations, she said: “It’s really lovely. Obviously I am just here to do the best I can do.

“It is lovely to be recognised and appreciated.

“I was quite emotional, I just do it because I do care. I want to support them more for them to be independent and strong – all of us need that extra support and I am happy to do it.

“We don’t realise sometimes that we do have those parents that need that extra support.”

  • Nominations have now closed for the Teacher of the Year award.

Judges from the Bury Free Press and Discovery Education have chosen the shortlisted teaching staff and will choose the winner, who will be announced in Friday December 6 edition of the newspaper.

The editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.


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