Loretta Gray was the Learning Resource & Development Manager at Quilley School when she first met Lewis Croney, then a Year 7 pupil. She appears in the Channel 4 documentary Working Class White Men, presented by Professor Green, and featuring Lewis, before he came to Trinity. Here Loretta talks about her mentoring role and Lewis’ experience at secondary school.
Right from the start Lewis – or LuLu as I like to call him – was more like a colleague than a student! He was very mature for his age. As Head Student Librarian, he took his duties seriously – his leadership skills were phenomenal – you wouldn’t mess with his rota!
How did he change during his time at Quilley?
I was fortunate to have Lewis in my mentoring group. He was always impeccably behaved and eager to learn. Education was very high on his priority list; he took all his studies seriously…apart from art! He didn’t enjoy any aspect of this subject (he didn’t choose it – the school timetable made it compulsory). He would beg me, as his mentor/tutor, to allow him to concentrate on his Mathematics instead.
Lewis was tactfully opinionated, strived to do better than his best, and knew right from wrong. He was a team player although he didn’t appreciate his peers’ misbehaving or not concentrating on the tasks that were set. I could see that he felt ‘he didn’t belong’. As a school, we embraced individuality and allowed students to be who they wanted to be. Lewis was different from all the other boys in his year. He worked hard and allowed himself to be self-motivated.
As he grew older, he realised if he wanted to succeed he’d just have to get on with it. Towards exams he would work through every break and lunchtime doing past papers.
What role did you play in Lewis’ school career and how he saw his future?
When Lewis came back to school during the filming of the documentary, he addressed the staff and pupils about his time at school. During his inspirational speech, Lewis mentioned that I was always there to support him in times of need. It’s true that instilling self-belief in all my students/mentees is of paramount importance to me. As the years went by Lewis grew in confidence; he played key roles in all the school productions and remembered his lines flawlessly.
What were the key things in Lewis’ success?
His determination and self-belief. This enabled him to work non-stop towards his goals, despite all the odds. And, more importantly, the support structure available to him throughout his journey. Lewis’ family, friends, and teachers all believed in him and this empowered him to achieve his dream.
Currently, Loretta is the Marketing and Social Media Manager at Crestwood Community School.