From the growth of Truro College, to a merger with Penwith College and the expansion of Higher Education courses for thousands of adults, Cheryl Mewton, Director of Studies at Truro and Penwith College, has played a leading role in it all.
But perhaps more inspiring is the legacy Cheryl leaves for generations of people in Cornwall – former pupils, students and colleagues that she is rightly most proud.
Cheryl began her education career in 1980, teaching Home Economics on secondment at the former Penryn School. When a full-time role came up at Richard Lander school in Truro in 1981 Cheryl immediately knew it was the role for her.
Home Economics at the time focused on Cookery but she also taught needlework and Child Development, all of which demanded good organisational skills. Cheryl stayed at the school for the next 12 years and still credits much of her career success to the unique skills she developed during that time. In her last year she introduced Health and Social Care into the curriculum.
The opening of Truro College in 1993 marked the start of a new era for 16+ education in Cornwall. Thanks to a role teaching at the Truro Sixth Form Centre (now Sainsburys) it was built to replace, Cheryl immediately applied for a new role at the College. Its subsequent popularity and growth took everyone by surprise.
“When the College opened in 1993 it was never intended that it would have the pull and become the size it is today,” said Cheryl. “We had no idea the growth and popularity would come like it did.”
With this growth came career opportunities and encouraged by colleagues Cheryl took on new roles. Despite never setting out to become a senior manager, progression from deputy team leader to programme team leader in the Community Studies department soon followed, and it was in 2001 that Cheryl joined the senior management team to help shape the College’s strategic direction
Despite serving on the management team during a period of exponential physical and course development, one of her fondest memories is when the team were first awarded Ofsted Outstanding status in 2006.
She remembers at the time, sitting in the drama studio with all the other staff and on hearing then Principal Jonathan Burnett announce the award the place erupted. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” she said. “Everyone was just so proud of how far we’d come and what we’d achieved.”
It’s difficult to pull out particular highlights over a 40-year career but Cheryl stressed her real pride comes in the stories and successes of individuals she has helped and supported to realise their potential.
It’s always been about the students for me in terms of what I’m most proud of. The individual student successes and achievements I’ve been personally involved with and especially those who’ve faced difficulties but overcome them to progress. The care and support we have at the heart of everything we do really is the essence of the College.