Governor Pen Portraits

Headteacher – Justin Peoples

My aspirations and expectations of the school, staff and pupils are unwaveringly high- even a pandemic did not take us off our path of rapid improvement. I am fortunate to lead a team of caring and effective staff who share my passion and drive; I am also supported and challenged by an exceptional governing body. We have the capacity and strategy in place to continue on this trajectory- what we have achieved so far is only the beginning. From a personal point of view, it is a privilege to have my name on the sign at the school entrance. Growing up in Whitby, I am a proud Yorkshireman (and Seasider!). It is a pleasure and a privilege to serve such a wonderful school community in the heart of my home county, North Yorkshire.

Chair of Governors – Rev. Claire Soderman

I was brought up in a village not too far from Northallerton so knew the area but as an adult I moved to Redcar where I had obtained my first teaching post. There, I enjoyed a wonderfully rewarding career at Wheatlands Primary School, most latterly as Deputy Head Teacher. I taught mostly in Key Stage Two, often in Year 6, and had responsibility for assessment and Pupil Premium. I was a long serving member of the Governing Body during my time teaching, serving on both staffing and finance, and curriculum and standards committees.

Living, working and worshipping in the area for a sustained period of time, enabled me to become heavily involved in all aspects of school and community life, particularly enjoying leading PE and school sport as part of the local School Sports Partnership, taking the choir and organising residential visits as well as my involvement in the local church and as a Cub Scout Leader. Life in Redcar also inspired my main interest beyond ministry, that of going to the beach, where I can be found watching the waves, walking along the water’s edge or swimming in the sea. During my thirties, I began to explore faith more deeply, and so began the first steps of a long journey towards a change of vocation. After a sustained process of discernment, I left Wheatlands in summer 2019 and moved to full time theological college at Cranmer Hall, St John’s College, Durham for two years.

Following ordination in the Church of England in June 2021, I then moved to Northallerton Parish as Assistant Curate to continue my training in parish ministry and am based in and around All Saints Church, Northallerton, St James, Romanby and St Lawrence, Kirby Sigston. I was delighted to join the strong governing body team here at Applegarth shortly after moving here as, from my experience, I have seen the way positive partnerships between all involved in a school can enhance the wider educational journey. Moving forwards, my role as Chair, along with the committed work of all governors, will be to continue to offer much encouragement alongside challenge and accountability as together we continue in the drive to be a school at the heart of the community, to improve outcomes for all pupils and to keep children at the heart of everything we do.

Vice Chair of Governors – Jo Burnside

I became an LA Governor in 2019 and have been fortunate in being reappointed in 2022. I have an MA in Human Resources Management and am currently the HR Manager in another school in North Yorkshire. I have a significant number of years working in education and have spent the last 14 years supporting schools and working with the children’s workforce. In addition, I have volunteered as a Civilian Instructor with the Air Cadets when my children were younger. I have a passion for safeguarding and student welfare and am currently the safeguarding link governor which fits well with my experience.

Staff Governor – Emily Burrell

Since a young age, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. Over the last 9 years, I have had the privilege of working with amazing colleagues, children, parents and families in multiple school. They have all developed me as a teacher and now as I embark on my role as staff governor, I look forward to seeing how I can support and develop the school and myself further. My husband and I work and live on a busy working farm and I love bringing my passion of farming and outdoor learning into school. We have recently had a baby and it has strengthened my view on how important it is for parents and school to work together to maximise the learning opportunities for our children. I am honoured to be part of the Applegarth family and am passionate about working with our families and children to strive for the best for all of our children.

Co-opted Governor – Diane Parsons

I have been a governor at Applegarth School since 2017, when my eldest child was in Reception. I have worn various hats in my time on the board; as both a parent and community co-opted governor, as Vice Chair and as Chair. I bring experience in governance and scrutiny from a local authority background and am passionate about improving school life for all of our pupils. I was a link governor on Early Years for a number of years and am currently linked to curriculum development and leadership.

Co-opted Governor – Jill Pawluk

After completing a first class honours degree at the Royal Academy of Music in London, I worked as a professional cellist for twenty years in the Midlands. In 1989, I was appointed as sub-principal cello in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Following the birth of my children, I combined freelance performing with cello teaching at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. During the time my two children attended primary school, I became actively involved in their school in a voluntary capacity and I also served as a parent governor for a number of years.

This experience inspired me to consider changing careers and I completed a Post Graduate Certificate of Education at the University of Wolverhampton in 2006. Since then, I have held a number of primary school teaching roles, both in the state and independent sectors, and in 2015 I moved to Northallerton to take up the role of Director of Teaching and Learning at a local Prep School. I was delighted when the opportunity arose for me to serve as a co-opted governor at Applegarth School in December 2020. It is a privilege to support the head teacher, dedicated staff and governing body as the school moves forward to ensure the best outcomes for all children.

Co-opted Governor – Cllr. Amanda Eames

I was brought up in Northern Ireland and qualified as a doctor in 1984. I moved to England in 1986 and became a GP in Northallerton in 1990, retiring in 2017. I was elected as a Northallerton Town Councillor in May 2021 and, when the Town Council was approached by Applegarth School in respect of a school governor vacancy, I was interested; I have always felt an affection for Applegarth School, as both my children attended the school and enjoyed their time there. I am strong supporter of good quality state education and so I was happy to become a governor in February 2022. My hobbies are cycling, walking and running.

Co-opted Governor – Claire Mitchell

I grew up in Middlesbrough and completed my degree in Dance in Education with the Royal Academy of Dance before teaching ballet for 15 years. I then had two children of my own and this ignited my interest in Early Years and Primary Education. I worked as the treasurer for a local playgroup before retraining as a primary school teacher and I have worked for a number of years across the whole primary age range, with a particular focus on Early Years. I am passionate about ensuring that children have access to an inspirational curriculum and high-quality teaching in a holistic and nurturing environment. Having briefly worked at Applegarth (as a maternity cover teacher) I was delighted to accept the role of co-opted governor in March 2023.

Parent Governor – Sarah Parkinson

I was born in Germany to a military family and we moved to England when I was nine years old. My latter school years were spent in Northallerton before attending University in Leeds. Following completion of a BA Hons Degree in Business Management, I trained and qualified as an accountant in 2005. As much as I enjoyed accounting, I’d always felt a pull towards mental health and so in 2011 I began my therapeutic journey and qualified as a person-centred counsellor in 2016. My training and subsequent roles enabled me to provide support in a variety of settings, such as educational environments, refuges, rehabilitation centres, hospitals and personal homes.

In my current position as a Specialist Social and Emotional Mental Health Practitioner, I work to support children, young people and families within educational settings across Hambleton and Richmond. I am passionate about mental wellbeing, in particular that of children. I feel that we all have responsibility to ensure the best possible educational experiences for young people, and allow each individual to reach their full potential. When an opening became available in 2020 to join the governing board, I saw it as an opportunity to support the school from a strategic perspective. Since then, I have seen the school adapt and develop in difficult economic times, to continue to give our children the most consistent support possible. As the mum of 2 children who are thriving at Applegarth Primary School, I am committed to my role as parent governor and will continue to promote the school’s ethos and values.

Parent Governor – Sgt. Jonathan Snelling

I grew up near Lancaster in a household of teachers. My parents (retd), brother and sister are teachers, so I know how challenging and rewarding working in a school can be! As a parent to two children at Applegarth, I understand how passionate and determined the school is to provide the best start for its pupils and nursery children. Joining the committee as a parent governor I am keen to share the military parent experience of the school and work with the committee to keep providing the best future for Applegarth. Joining the RAF in 2000 as an apprentice technician, I have come full circle and now manage Northern England and Scotland RAF Apprentices as they start their own journey. Having studied all the way through my career to gain honours degrees in Computing and Communication Technologies respectively and a member of the IET Engineering Council (EngC), it is really a privilege to help others achieve their academic goals.

Parent Governor – Kirsty Morgan

I am delighted to have joined the Governing Body as a Parent Governor at Applegarth School in 2023. My two daughters both currently attend Applegarth School. My father was in the RAF Mountain Rescue Service, after being posted around the UK and abroad we settled in North Yorkshire, I attended secondary school in Bedale and then sixth form in Richmond before going on to study at Teesside University where I graduated as a Registered Nurse in 2009. I have lived in Northallerton for the last 13 years and I currently work as a Practice Nurse at a GP surgery.

I am incredibly passionate about nursing and enjoy serving the local and wider community. In my nursing role, I have developed many organisational and problem-solving skills, and I am familiar with working collaboratively and confidently within multi-disciplinary teams in challenging situations. I also have knowledge and experience in safeguarding. I believe that my professional skills combined with my passion for children’s health and emotional wellbeing will allow me to make a positive contribution and support the Governing Body. I enjoy volunteering for the PTA, helping to raise extra funds which go towards facilities and equipment that support the school and the children’s learning.

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