Purdy – Mentor of the Year 2022

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PURDY MENTOR OF THE YEAR: AN INTERVIEW WITH LAST YEAR’S WINNER

In 2021, professional painting tools manufacturer Purdy launched the Mentor of the Year competition to recognise those who are inspiring the next generation of professional painters and decorators. Here, we speak to John Stevenson, Lecturer at the Leeds College of Building, about what it meant to him to win last year and why he believes Mentor of the Year is a fantastic initiative.

Firstly, can you tell us about your job role and the work that you do? 

I started teaching Painting & Decorating in 2008 and have been a Lecturer at Leeds College of Building since 2018, where I regularly teach full-time students and apprentices, as well as adult courses. I am also an IQA (Internal Quality Assurance) and advanced practitioner, meaning I assess new and existing staff members and work alongside them to try new teaching methods to connect with their students.

How many years of experience do you have in the painting and decorating trade?

I first joined the trade as a 16-year-old decorator in 1992. After a couple of years learning the trade, I worked as a decorator for a high-end interior design company until 2000 when I decided to set up my own business. In 2008, I moved into teaching and have lectured ever since, giving me a combined 30 years of decorating and teaching experience.

How did you find out that you had been nominated?

Last year, SkillBuild held one of its regional competitions at Leeds College. Purdy attended the event to demonstrate the value and benefits of its professional tools for productivity and quality of finish and to raise awareness about Mentor of the Year. This led to a number of my students getting together and agreeing to nominate me for the award. It was a lovely moment when they came up to me in class after and let me know.

What did it mean to you to win the Mentor of the Year award last year?

I am thrilled to be able to inspire the next generation in the same way that my mentors inspired me. The award meant a lot to me and my family. I remember my 14-year-old son proudly telling all of his friends that I’d won the award, which was a really nice moment for me.

It is so important to make connections with students so that you can find the best way to enable their learning. The fact that my students had taken the time to nominate me validates all the work that I do as an educator.

Why do you think Mentor of the Year is a good initiative?

Everyone remembers a teacher that influenced them. Colleges and further education are crucial to bridge the gap between education and the working world. However, we find that students often thank us for our work 10 years after leaving education when they are running their own businesses.

It is important to provide these initiatives to allow young people to show appreciation to their mentors while still learning the trade. I think it also means something to the students to be able to sit down and talk about someone that has had this positive influence in their lives.

Why should people nominate?

It’s a great opportunity to recognise what mentors are trying to do for you and say thank you. If anyone has a mentor who truly cares and goes that extra mile to support you and your career path, the Purdy Mentor of the Year competition is a fantastic way to demonstrate that you appreciate all of their efforts.

Nominations for Purdy’s Mentor of the Year 2022 are now open. For more information, please visit: https://www.purdy.co.uk/the-purdy-difference/mentor-of-the-year/.

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