“There’s a big responsibility that I do right by people in the community,” says the headteacher of Hall Park Academy as she talks about her role in the Eastwood area.
Stephanie Dyce became head teacher of the Mansfield Road school almost three years ago, when it became part of the Redhill Academy Trust.
Ms Dyce, who lives in Nottinghamshire with her husband and two daughters, had already worked for the academy trust at another school for more than 10 years.
She came to Hall Park Academy, formerly Eastwood Comprehensive, with the task of “raising standards”.
And after “numerous challenges”, and “many rewards”, Ms Dyce says the school is a “lovely place to work” and she is proud to be part of the Eastwood community.
She says: “It’s a big responsibility to be head of the only comprehensive in a town.
“And I think the way we best serve the community is to turn out well-rounded individuals who have achieved well. And ultimately the community will benefit from that.
“The children of Eastwood are a pleasure to work with.
“It’s a small school compared to where I was before.
“But that has benefits, because there is a more community feel and it means staff can get to know students much better on an individual basis.
“It’s my priority to be out and about in school every day.
“It’s important to be visible to students and that you’re approachable as well.
“I’m proud to say I have a role to play in this community because I like it here.”
Ms Dyce is the first to admit that before she came to Eastwood, she did not know much about the town – other than the DH Lawrence connections and the fact it had an IKEA.
But after starting work, she soon realised it is a “beautiful part of Nottinghamshire”.
She says: “I think students are lucky to live here. They should be proud of where they’re from.”
Before becoming a teacher, Ms Dyce, originally from Hartlepool, studied history at Sheffield University and for her post-graduate certificate in education at Nottingham University.
Outside work, she enjoys sport, such as running – and was captain of the hockey team at university.
Ms Dyce says although academic qualifications are “absolutely everything”, sports, performing arts and clubs are also key in helping people develop life-long skills, which is reflected in the school.
She says having two children, aged 12 and nine, helps her do her job.
“The fact I’ve a child at secondary schoolage makes me see it in a different way,” she says. “I shouldn’t be leading a school that provides sub-standard education, I wouldn’t want that for my child. Parents have every right to expect that for their children.”
Ms Dyce has already led the school through numerous successes, including a huge improvement in GCSE results.
But she says the school is not a “one person campaign”.
She says: “We have really strong teams at all levels at the school, and that’s what makes it a success and a great place to work. I enjoy my job, I enjoy coming to work, and I enjoy being part of this community.”