Heads join Kate and Stella in 'Who's Who'
Dr Despontin, head of Haberdashers' Monmouth School for Girls is among 26 headteachers who are new entrants in Who's Who, the red-bound Bible of the great and the good.
She accompanies other Who's Who debutantes such as actor Nicholas Lyndhurst, model Kate Moss and designer Stella McCartney, who are all making their first appearance when the new edition is published next week.
Dr Despontin attributes her inclusion to her presidency of the Girls' School Association last year, as well as to her high media profile. But she hopes it is also recognition of 34 years of hard work.
"If you're looking at people who make a contribution to society, then school leaders should be included too," she said. "Nobody makes a better contribution than those who prepare citizens of tomorrow."
Brenda Bigland agrees. The 56-year-old head of Lent Rise Combined School at Slough, Berkshire, was invited to submit an entry after she received a CBE in the Queen's birthday honours last year.
"As a headteacher you don't just have an impact on pupils, but on the whole staff, the whole community," she said. "You're drawing them into education.
"I'm not into the social thing of it. It's just the icing on the cake of a career dedicated to education."
There are more than 350 heads, past and present, included in the 2,200-page volume. But Simon Everson, head of The Skinners' School, a grammar in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, is underwhelmed at being added to their ranks.
"If you're going to ask one headteacher, you should ask every headteacher," he said. "I don't see why my work should get any more recognition than my colleagues in less-known institutions."
Both he and Dr Despontin insist that they will not be dropping their Who's Who reference into casual conversation.
"It's not the sort of thing you want to put up on the staff noticeboard, is it?" said Dr Despontin.
Mr Everson has mentioned his listing to his father, a former chief inspector of schools, who already has an entry of his own. "He's delighted," he said. "And he's particularly pleased to have named me with an initial that came after his."
CLASS OF 2008: THOSE WHO MADE IT
Sir Keith Ajegbo, former head, Deptford Green School, London.
Yasmin Bevan, head, Denbigh High, Luton.
Brenda Bigland, head, Lent Rise Combined School, Slough, Berkshire.
Jonathan Cox, head, Royal Grammar School, Guildford.
Peter Crook, head, Purcell School, Hertfordshire.
Simon Davies, head, Eastbourne College, East Sussex.
Alan Davison, head, Dame Alice Owen's School, Hertfordshire.
Brenda Despontin, head, Haberdashers' Monmouth School for Girls, Monmouth.
Genefer Espejo, head, Nonsuch High School for Girls, Sutton, Surrey.
Simon Everson, head, The Skinners' School, Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
John Franklin, head, Christ's Hospital, Horsham, West Sussex.
Diana Gant, head, Mount School, York.
Mark Garbett, head, Latymer School, north London.
Robert Griffin, Exeter School, Devon.
Mark Grundy, executive principal, Shireland Academy and George Salter Academy, Sandwell, West Midlands.
Robert Guthrie, principal, Hockerill Anglo-European College, Hertfordshire.
Suzanne Hall, head, Rugby High, Worcestershire.
Timothy Hands, master, Magdalen College School, Oxford.
Martin Haworth, head, Wallington County Grammar, Surrey.
Frances King, head, Roedean School, Brighton.
Mary McLaughlin, head, Notre Dame High, Glasgow.
Roy Page, head, Royal Grammar School, Buckinghamshire.
Martin Reader, head, Wellington School, Somerset.
John Richardson, head, Cheltenham College, Gloucestershire.
Frances Stratton, head and geology teacher, South Wilts Grammar.
Bernard Trafford, head, Wolverhampton Grammar, Wolverhampton.
Linda Wybar, head, Tunbridge Wells Girls' Grammar, Kent.