SPOTLIGHT - GILL CROSS
The final Spotlight of term falls on the 'legendary' Gill Cross - our much-loved Head of Early Years.
Gill was born in Cheshire, within a stone’s throw of the river Mersey, so technically she is a Liver Bird! However, her family moved south when she was four and she spent the remainder of her childhood and teenage years in Laleham, a lovely little village on the Thames, just outside London. At 18 she headed off to Winchester to study for her teaching degree and her first job was at a first school in Windsor with a class of 36 five and six year olds. Having met her future husband, Geoff, whilst at college, she married in 1984 and became ‘excess baggage’ the very politically incorrect name for army wives. Their first army quarter was in Cambridgeshire and Gill secured some supply teaching before landing a job with a Year 3 class. She then left teaching to spend the next 12 years following her husband from posting to posting and bringing up their three children. A posting to Warminster turned out to be a defining moment for her. She worked for several years in a little private nursery school and then saw an advert in the Warminster Journal for a part-time Year 2 teacher at Warminster Prep. The rest, as they say, is history…
How long have you worked at Warminster?
18 years. Where has the time gone?
What’s the best thing about your role?
The variety; every day brings fresh challenges and opportunities and five year olds are great fun to work with.
You are our Early Years Foundation Stage Guru. In your opinion, what is the most important part of this provision at Warminster Prep?
I believe that play-based learning and fun activities are what work best for children at this age. It is wonderful to be able to spend time interacting with the children as they play so that I can ascertain their strengths and weaknesses and plan activities to address them successfully. I feel very fortunate to work in a school that has class sizes that enable me to form such strong bonds with the children. I love the fact that our small classes also allow us to provide such individual attention and give the children such exciting opportunities.
The current Head Boy, Josh Haines, described you as a 'legend' remembering his time with you when he started out in Pre-Prep. That's a pretty amazing comment to receive from a pupil, how did it make you feel?
Well it was obviously very flattering but, thankfully, my own children kept me grounded by finding it hilarious and there was a little bit of teasing! I'm not sure they always think of their mother as a legend! On a more serious note, I have to say that it was an amazing comment for Josh to make on film, but I am just one small link in a chain of people who have taught and influenced him to help him become the wonderful young man he now is. We cannot quite believe that Josh and his friends from the 2003/2004 reception class will leave us next term - an end of an era.
Describe a typical day?
Impossible! Most days include some fun stuff (teaching), some not-so-much-fun stuff (admin and paperwork), some laughter (with colleagues or children) and some collapsing, exhausted, at the end of it.
What do you think makes Warminster a special place to live and learn?
This is, quite simply, the happiest school I have ever worked in. My colleagues are amazing and we, along with the children, are really all part of an extended family. I love the warm, friendly atmosphere and the fact that, however I may be feeling, when I walk through the door in the mornings there will always be something or someone to put a smile on my face.
What would surprise us about you?
Maybe it would be that I’m a complete adrenalin junkie. I have ridden all the scariest rides in Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and the Orlando theme parks so I have, literally, met (and ridden on) my Nemesis! Thanks to my husband’s military links, I’ve also learnt to sail, fly a glider and make a parachute jump. My most exotic adrenaline rush was definitely when I finished a walk along The Great Wall of China with a zip-wire ride across a lake – great fun!
What other Warminster role would you like to try for a day and why?
I think I’d like to be a pupil for a day. They have so much fun at school these days compared to when I was their age and I would love the chance to try some of the amazing opportunities they are given here at Warminster.
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher! Not very original but it is a joy that I have fulfilled my childhood ambition.
What did your school reports say about you?
Believe it or not, they said that I was too quiet in class and needed to take a fuller part in class discussions! Now people struggle to shut me up!
Your note/advice to teenage self?
Don’t worry so much; it’s all going to turn out brilliantly!
Your mantra/motto or favourite quote?
I love the quote from WB Yeats “Education is not the filling of a pail but rather the lighting of a fire.”
Hidden ambitions still to achieve?
Travelling to Australia and New Zealand.
Most treasured possession?
A photo album that my daughter compiled as a Mother’s Day present for me when she was 15. It contains a history of my motherhood, up until that time, and includes annotated photos, little notes my children wrote me when they were younger and cards they had made for me. It is definitely the thing I would rush for if the house were on fire (other than people, of course).
I am a bit of a spelling fanatic and it ‘defiantly’ annoys me when people ‘definately’ don’t know how to spell definitely correctly!
I have a very wide musical taste, which could almost be defined as lacking in discernment! Bands from my youth that I still enjoy would include Genesis, Fleetwood Mac and ELO. At present I am listening to a lot of Leonard Cohen, following his recent, untimely death plus Elbow and Bruno Mars. Next week I could have flitted to Abba, The Manic Street Preachers and Adele. See what I mean about lack of discernment?
Peanut M&M’s. I love them but know they shouldn’t really form part of my healthy eating plan!
Signature dish if you were on MasterChef?
Oh gosh! I think 30 years of cooking for a family, day in, day out, has ground the MasterChef out of me but my family love my glazed ham with Cumberland sauce so that would probably be one of my signature dishes.
Favourite TV programme?
I enjoy property programmes so am watching Location, Location at the moment but also love Grand Designs and DIY SOS: The Big Build. And I don’t think you can beat a good costume drama on the BBC.
Last book you read?
I’m an avid reader and always have a book on the go. I have a book club at my house so the choices for that influence some of my reading. I have just finished Longbourn by Jo Baker. It’s a retelling of Pride and Prejudice but from the point of view of the servants and I recommend it to any Jane Austen fans out there.
Last movie watched?
LA LA Land. I did enjoy it but am not quite sure what all the hype was about.
Which actor would play you in a movie about your life?
Well I have been told, on a number of occasions, that when I wear my glasses I look like Julie Walters’ character, Rosie, in Mama Mia. So, maybe her? She is an amazing actress and has good comic abilities so perhaps she would be able to capture all the ridiculous expressions I tend to adopt.
I do love a nice cup of tea but, when in party mood, I’m rather partial to a gin and tonic or a mojito.
Favorite place/city in the world and why?
Beijing. We have been twice, as each of my younger two children spent a year working as teaching assistants in a British School out there. I just loved the mix of modern and ancient, western and oriental. It was amazing to be standing in a courtyard of the Forbidden City and be looking out over modern skyscrapers.
Twitter or Facebook?
Facebook. I can’t get my head around limiting my word count for Twitter!