Meet Gemma Kellerman - the Sleights school governor who is making a real difference to the community

Being kind costs nothing, and yet it carries such high value for the delighted recipient.

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 3:48 pm
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 10:27 am

Just a little bit of kindness has an enormous power to lift spirits, bring our communities together, and showcase the very best of human nature.

It also brings a plethora of proven health benefits – simply knowing that someone cares can give a great boost to our self-esteem and sense of wellbeing, and for the bearer of kindness, there is a tremendous feel-good factor too.

Being kind comes naturally to the people of Scarborough and residents right across North Yorkshire, and we want to celebrate the strength of this important and life-changing social norm.

Gemma Kellerman has been Chair of Governors at Sleights Church of England Primary School for seven years.

The Scarborough News, in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council and sister JPI Media titles in Yorkshire, has launched a major year-long campaign called Salt of the Earth, which will share inspiring stories and examples of the very easy but meaningful ways that we can all make somebody’s day brighter just by showing some kindness.

Whether it be volunteering for a charity or community group on a formal basis, or the everyday ways we can help one another, our Salt of the Earth campaign celebrates those who have a real impact on our everyday lives.

Going the extra mile for somebody is a lovely thing to do, but equally, it is the small, natural gestures of kindness that create such a lasting impact, too.

Let’s work together to inspire even more people to make a difference, and show just how kind our amazing county is.

The second week of our Salt of the Earth campaign focuses on Gemma Kellerman.

Gemma Kellerman’s children have been attending Sleights Church of England Primary School for over 17 years, writes Louise Perrin.

She has been a governor for 11 years and Chair of Governors for the last seven.

During this time she has seen a lot of changes to the school and a significant number of people pass through, both students and staff.

Headteacher Scott Grason, who nominated Gemma as one of our Salt of the Earth recipients, said: “Gemma has played a really big part in the school for a very long time.

“Gemma goes over and above all the time,” he said. “Like this morning, I’ve messaged to ask her if she’s available and without even asking why, she’s said she’ll be here.”

Mr Grason took over as headteacher of the school in 2017. Sleights School has, by his own admission, seen some challenging times over the past few years, but Mr Grason is pleased to say the school received a Good grading in their most recent Ofsted in November 2019.

He said: “In the last year the school has had Siams (Statutory Inspection of Anglican, Methodist and ecumenical School) and Ofsted, both within the space of six months, and both on the new frameworks, in fact we were one of the first schools inspected on the new framework.

“Gemma was there every step of the way and during the inspection I began to recognise that we don’t pause often enough to say thank you for what you do.”

Gemma, who works as a Cancer Information Support Officer at Scarborough Hospital, has three children. Her eldest is now 22 and the youngest just five, between them they have been at the school for the last 17 years.

When asked whether having such a big gap between her children was intentional, Gemma simply smiled, shrugged, and said: “Well, I suppose I should be enjoying long lie-ins by now!”

She became a governor after being approached by a previous headteacher. “Basically I got talked into doing it,” she said. “Then when the vice chair stepped down I volunteered to cover the gap and … well… here I am.” Mr Grason said that Gemma is truly exceptional as a governor: “I’ve worked for two heads and I’ve seen the relationship between a head and the chair of governors – you don’t know how important that relationship is.

“People don’t realise what it takes to be a governor, it’s hard to get a governor, harder to get a chair and even harder to get a good chair. In Gemma we have a great chair!

“Gemma offers the consistent support and constant challenge you expect from a chair of governors. Without that, we would not have the school we have.

“She displays all the qualities you would want a Salt of the Earth nominee to have.”

When asked what her favourite part of the role was, Gemma said: “I just love the children, they are fabulous. It’s a proper family here, a brilliant community, we have great parents and an amazing head teacher.

“We’re not just a building in the village. I want us to feel part of the village the school stands in, and to do that I’ll do whatever needs doing.” Diane Exelby, a TA at the school and currently serving her second term as school governor, said: “ Gemma is always there, she listens and supports us all in everything, she goes above and beyond.”

“She talks to pupils and parents, even makes tea and coffee at our parents evenings. She’s always there for a chat if you’re feeling down.”

Gemma said: “Sometimes it’s just nice to pass the time of day. Di makes the scones and I make the tea.” Diane added: “Gemma also supports out of school activities and Mr Grason 100%. She accompanies the children up to church for services, on school trips, she even visits East Barnby when the children are on residentials.

“Gemma is part of us, she’s very approachable and fills in at the office if there is no-one about.

“She even comes with us on staff nights out, there’s not many schools that would say they take their governors with them on the staff nights out!”

Get involved

We would love to invite you to get involved with our Salt of the Earth campaign - is there someone who makes a real difference in your life? It could be that they take you to visit your GP, perhaps they regularly collect your parcels from the sorting office, maybe they always buy an extra cream cake and find time to share it with you. Whatever it is, we would love to hear about the people who are having a positive impact on your life. Get in touch today by emailing: [email protected]