Shelagh Musk is personal assistant to the headteacher and governors at Hertswood School in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.
The school was created three years ago in a major reorganisation; three middle and two upper schools closed to become Hertswood, an all-through comprehensive for 1,100 students aged 11 to 18. When such an upheaval happens in a town, someone like Shelagh, who was at the heart of it, can ease the process by making everyone feel informed and secure.
She had been secretary to one of the middle school headteachers; her local knowledge and reputation in the county for being a top PA made her a natural choice for the Hertswood job. "She's got integrity and initiative, and the quality of her work is faultless," says Andy Stainton, assistant head and a member of the senior management team, who nominated Shelagh for our flowers, champagne and chocolates. "She knows how schools work and always seems to find the best way of doing things."
The transition period took two years from September 2000 and, for the first year, Shelagh remained at her middle school job. Delays in building work and numerous new appointments meant her local knowledge was invaluable. Her open, friendly manner was a boon.
According to Mr Stainton, some of the five schools that closed were causing concern at county level, with "serious weaknesses" being talked about, so an Ofsted description of "satisfactory" in March 2003 was welcomed. Then, last summer, top grades at GCSE showed the kind of improvement that was at the heart of the plan, with the proportion of pupils getting five A-Cs rising from 23 to 41 per cent.
With the whole school running smoothly now, Shelagh's colleagues wanted to say a big thank you. "She sets a professional example to the children and talks to them as individuals," says Mr Stainton. "And in a crisis she's there for all of us."
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