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Disney heroine

Christine Hopkins, primary head on the Orkney island of Papa Westray, must be a happy person this week despite not picking up a cheque for Pounds 8,000 and not getting an all-expenses paid trip to the United States. She is, after all, a Disney Channel Teacher of the Year, albeit one of 12 regional winners worth Pounds 2,000 for her school fund and she did win a trip to the UK ceremony in London. The top award went to a Bristol teacher.

Viewers of the satellite channel at the weekend would have seen environmental campaigner David Bellamy introduce a sample of her work with her six pupils. The citation says that Hopkins has "transformed the school into an active and stimulating environment", sometimes taking the children as far afield as Orkney.

Hopkins landed the Papa Westray job in 1990 having, naturally, seen the advertisement in The TES. She seems to have learnt very quickly that "liaising with parents and the community" is very different in Orkney from what it was in her previous post in Cheshire.

She has been heavily involved with the community co-op in Papa Westray as well as with significant educational projects, from electronic links with other schools to adult education courses. She is also the island's fire officer: how did she manage to graft that on to the famously resistant teachers' terms and conditions?

Her Scottish award will be good enough for her Papa fans. "Every school deserves to have a Christine Hopkins," says one who has watched her at close quarters.

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