Theresa Darling is a learning support assistant, dinner lady and school governor at Newton Farm first and middle school, London borough of Harrow.
Theresa was poached from another school to become a classroom assistant about five years ago by headteacher Rekha Bhakoo, who nominated her for our flowers, champagne and chocolates, saying: "She's an absolute gem, a real darling."
This is a beacon school, one of 32 schools chosen for the Pathfinders pilot designed to free teachers from administrative tasks. Eighteen months on, Mrs Bhakoo says she can't believe what progress has been made and that Theresa has been "a foot soldier" in the management of change. "We are well on the way to reforming workload," she says, adding that at Newton Farm, all 25 of the admin tasks have been devolved from teachers, mostly to classroom assistants.
Theresa works in all classes up to Year 7 - Harrow still has middle schools - and has the ability to train as a teacher. But she has chosen to take the planned higher course for classroom assistants. "She's very professional and is never fazed by anything. She listens to the children, she never treads on toes, she's always smiling and runs with our positive ethos," says Mrs Bhakoo.
Before joining the pilot, Newton Farm was lagging behind in its application of ICT in the classroom, but the Pathfinders management team, which included Theresa, decided to invest in an interactive whiteboard for every classroom and a laptop for every teacher. It's a decision that's reaped big rewards.
"I'd have laughed if you'd told me we would be leading the authority, but that's how it's turned out," says Mrs Bhakoo. "Theresa talks to everyone and gets them involved. That's helped so much."
Is there an unsung hero in your school? Tell Sarah Bayliss, TESFriday editor, about him or her at the address below. Flowers kindly supplied by Marks amp; Spencer