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Student mentor wins prize for her motivating influence

PUPILS who would once have dashed off from class when the school bell sounded have been staying behind after lessons for Juanita Husbands. The 23-year-old assistant Burger King manageress, who has just finished a law degree at Teesside University, has shown them the value of further education.

And her four hours a weekat pound;5 per hour for the past two years, at Langbaurgh school in Middlesbrough, have just won her the first national mentor of the year award. She was one of 10 finalists in the competition, part of the national mentoring pilot programme, a Department for Education and Skills initiative.

Her work in the school showed her patience, empathy, organisation, responsibility and commitment to her students, according to Alan Evans, national co-ordinator.

The compeition focuses on education action zones, encouraging universities to provide undergraduates to go into schools and work with pupils to build confidence.

Juanita said: "I didn't have a lot of careers information at school. Even when I was at tech I didn't know what I wanted to do next. But I am very down to earth, and I know that going to university can be a struggle."

Juanita, who is from Northern Ireland, is hoping to go on to a masters degree. Gill Ruyssenaars, senior teacher at Langbaurgh school, said:

"Juanita has really raised the profile of pupils wanting to achieve more."

* Second and third places in the competition went respectively to Matthew Gordon from Wolverhampton University and Claire Hinton from Cheltenham and Gloucester College.

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