Mark Humphries

11th November 2005 at 00:00
Wearing a hard hat has become second nature to teacher Mark Humphries. All his expertise as head of craft design technology at St Francis Xavier school in Richmond, North Yorkshire, has been brought to bear on the site that has become phase 1 of a major rebuild. Phase 2, including a new sports hall, has already started and will be finished by September 2006.

Known as the "unofficial site manager" on this pound;7.5 million project, Mr Humphries has been involved in the planning and architectural side since the start. His devotion to the project has been absolute; he even cut short his summer holiday to the Scilly Isles when things looked precarious.

According to headteacher Dr Joe McAuley, inspecting plans and tours of the site have been part of everyone's education - staff and pupils. "That's partly why we are so delighted with it now we've moved into phase 1," says Dr McAuley. "There's a real sense of ownership." Views about colour, work surfaces, fixtures and fittings - even socket positions - were all taken into account.

Positioned on the edge of Richmond with open countryside nearby, St Francis Xavier is an unusual joint denominational school for Roman Catholic and Anglican families. The roll is small ("that's why parents like us," says Dr Mc Auley) but until recently was crammed into a building made for only 200 pupils. The new school can grow to 450.

Head of English Tony Scully, who nominated Mr Humphries for our flowers, champagne and chocolates, says he's observed a senior teacher doing two high pressure jobs at once, "with unbelievable calm, practical good sense and an unceasing sense of humour". Resistant materials is his teaching specialism, but with people he's positive. "He's got a smiley face and is the quiet guy who just gets on with things."

Recently Mr Humphries, his three young children and wife, who also teaches at St Francis Xavier, have moved to the housing estate overlooking the school. "I'm not sure if its visible from his bedroom window but he should be proud to know he's made such a difference," says Mr Scully.

Heroes are out there, but we need you to reveal them in all their glory.

Think of the person in your school - teacher, classroom assistant, governor, cook - who always goes the extra mile. Then tell us about them in a letter or email to Sarah Bayliss at the address on the left. Go on, they deserve recognition. (Flowers kindly supplied by Marks Spencer)

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