Memories to treasure... Cheryl Julian looks back at the 18 years she spent as Headteacher of Crich Junior School.
It was Monday 15th January 2001 when I carefully edged down School Lane, which was covered in ice and snow, to run the school as Acting Headteacher. A few months previously, I’d had a phone call from the Senior Advisor in Derbyshire asking me if I would consider taking on the role of Acting Head. ‘No’ I said. ‘Not my cup of tea’.
My career in Derby City was moving in a different direction. He persuaded me to come and have a look.
I sat outside the boys’ toilets (very glamorous), waiting to see the leaving Headteacher. He had a dad in with him. The dad came out looking shellshocked. The boy was in trouble yet again... My curiosity was sparked. What could the boy have done? I met the boy and I knew I could do a job and make a difference.
Crich Juniors is made up of an amazing family of staff, all pulling in the same direction – all focused on enabling every child to be happy, caring, confident and accomplished. As a team, our best and most effective innovations come directly when we listen and hear what our children are telling us.
Any career is made up of the highs and the lows. As I end my tenure at the Junior School, I would like to share with you a few of the magic moments:
Lilli-Su (cohort 2019) – for your insistence that Mrs Kearney, our Musical Director, should widen both her own knowledge and the repertoire of the orchestra to include Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. It took you two years, but girl power won in the end!
(from cohort 2001) – a question during Relationships & Puberty Education from a very sensible boy to the school nurse: ‘How long is a pubic hair?’
(from cohort 2013) – a boy with very challenging additional needs moved into the area and into Year 6. Not a dry eye in the house when he played a solo on his cornet at the Leavers’ Service – a massive achievement recognised by our whole school community.
(from cohort 2012) – an awareness-raising session to pupils by a hearing specialist. Denny: ‘Has anyone tasted ear wax? What does it taste like?’ Boy: ‘Yes – it tastes like Green & Black’s dark organic chocolate.’
(from cohort 2010) – I have a picture on my office wall which is very special to me and which will hang at home when I retire. It has kept me grounded and sane during the tough times and reminds me why I love the job and why we must never lose focus on each child. It was painted by a boy with his mum at home and he wanted to give it to me as a present. He was often in trouble at school for small misdemeanours, so we spent time together in my office! Three times he asked staff if he could bring it to me and was told no – not yet. I sat and waited and wondered what this warrior would do next. He hid in the toilets at lunchtime and when the coast was clear he rushed, huffing and puffing, to my office with his gift. Success and pride at his own resilience. And what of that boy? He wasn’t a naughty boy – he was just a boy being a boy! And Dan has been back as a music teacher working with our children. Fabulous – I feel very proud of him. And when he complains about behaviour, I just think, ‘Hey-ho, Dan – what goes around comes around...’.
It takes a whole village to educate a child – I really believe in this African proverb. It is an enormous task and responsibility to develop our children to be excellent citizens of the world. We need everyone on the job. So a big thank-you to all our volunteers and the community for all the support of our school.
I’m sad to retire, but the school is in safe hands for the future of our children.
TRACKS OF MY YEARS
Tiger Feet Mud – for a glam-rock youth
A Natural Woman Carole King – from the album my husband wooed me with
Adagio in G Minor Albinoni – for peace and quiet
Amazing Grace John Newton – for a Methodist upbringing as well as being one of our favourite school hymns with Pastor Hand
Midnight Train to Georgia Gladys Knight & the Pips – favourite song ever!
What did others have to say about Cheryl?
This is what Chris Hand shared:
Having been Chair of Governors alongside Cheryl for a fair few years, and having had a ringside seat through my other involvements in the school stretching back 18 years now, she has earned my immense respect. The children of our community who have passed through the doors of Crich Juniors, including my own, have had the benefit of her inspired, visionary and dedicated leadership. Under her, the school has excelled in all departments. All children, whatever their abilities, their interests, their skills, have had the opportunity to learn, develop and contribute to the life of the school. We are told ‘Every Child Matters’ and at Crich Juniors they do. Children who have struggled in other educational settings have flourished under Cheryl’s care. She has inspired those around her and her influence in the field of education has been felt well beyond Crich. She retires ‘with full military honours’ and with my family’s gratitude and that of many others, too.
And from Peter Patilla:
As the Head of a village school once myself, I can appreciate the joys and challenges that Cheryl must have experienced. Her commitment to ensuring that her school has been very much part of the community has been obvious – from her pupils’ regular support of Crich Luncheon Club and other village events, to encouraging members of the community to enter school and work with the children. These participation-visitors have included enthusiastic gardeners from Crich Horticultural Society and handicraft enthusiasts from Crich ‘Muddlealong’ to name but a few. Cheryl encouraged a strong emphasis on developing musical talent among the children and their joy at making music has been shared at many village events. Professionally, the school has been recognised in favourable Ofsted reports plus a gamut of awards from organisations including the Arts Council, Derbyshire Healthy Schools Community, Food for Life and Music Excellence Awards. Not content with the challenges of running a school, Cheryl has also involved herself in several community committees. On these committees she takes an active role. Passive participation is not part of her make-up. I consider my grandchildren
fortunate to have had an excellent, rounded and fulfilling education at Crich Junior School under the headship of Cheryl and her staff. A well-earned retirement awaits, although I am sure it will not be spent with ‘feet up’.
But let’s leave the very ‘last word’ to Cheryl herself:
Historically, headteachers used to keep a Log Book of what happened in school. I view the CACN as our Log Book, as it tells the story of the school over the years. It’s great to look back upon. On a personal note, the (really good) changes that have been made with the magazine under the new team have, in a way, helped me to get my head around retirement. I’m really proud of the job we’ve done here as a team, but it is time for a ‘new pair of eyes’ to enhance and develop further what we’ve achieved.
Good luck for the future, Cheryl. Crich Juniors and the village will miss you.