Teesside deputy head teacher Alison Tasker has been recognised as a Teesside Hero for her passionate voluntary work as an ambassador for autism and “truly inspirational lady”.
While her role at Stockton’s Rosebrook Academy covers pupils with special needs, it is Alison’s commitment to going above and beyond the call of duty to help parents and other schools that shines out to those who see her as a true local hero.
She has led fundraising efforts that have brought in thousands of pounds for the school’s ASD Hub and a new sensory garden for those with autism and other special needs.
“Helping those with autism is something I really enjoy,” said Alison. “It’s me. It fits with my philosophy in terms of inclusion for all children, and I just love working with them.”
And, after 28 years working at Rosebrook Academy and its predecessor, Roseworth, she admits the school is a big part of who she is too.
“I’m like a stick of rock – cut me in half and you’ll find Rosebrook written through me,” she jokes. “This school and its fantastic ASD Hub is a big part of me.
“We’re always looking to improve what we have and to be the best we can possibly be because it’s for the children and they deserve it.
“I think our children are so amazing in terms of their uniqueness and strengths. Our school is enhanced by having them here, and they are accepted and very much part of the school and our ethos.”
But such is her dedication to helping those with autism, Alison has for many years run courses for parents and schools throughout Stockton to increase understanding about autism. The evening courses are run in her own spare time without pay.
“For me, it’s all about sharing best practice,” she explained. “The courses are designed to be helpful for parents whose children have recently been diagnosed with autism because it can be a big learning curve for them. It’s not the journey they thought they were setting off when they became parents. But I love running the courses and spreading the word.”
Alison received her Teesside Hero Award from charitable movement Teesside Philanthropic Foundation during assembly at the school when she was surprised by the charity’s chairman Andy Preston, who presented her with a trophy and vouchers for Mohujo’s Mexican restaurant in Stockton.
She also received £1,000 for a local worthy cause of her choice – and it was no surprise when she immediately nominated the academy’s ASD Hub.
Now she has her sights set on helping to complete work on the Hub, having helped to raise more than £9,000 – including a £1,000 donation from the Philanthropic Foundation. They have already been able to create a playroom and outside area but she is keen to complete a sensory garden featuring a water pump, willow tunnel, storytelling area, plants and den.
“For me, it’s always about the children,” she added. “There’s a great team that works with me, but it’s the children who are the heroes. The additional effort they need to put in every day to achieve what others do never ceases to amaze me.”
Parent Kelly Pounder, who nominated Alison for the award, said: “Alison is truly inspirational lady and it’s right that her dedication has been recognised. As a parent, I, can honestly say that my son Keane would not have achieved what he has today without her support. She has also kept me sane in hard times. She absolutely rocks!”