Here at Shirebrook Academy, we always celebrate the achievements of our former students, especially Mason Bennett, who made his debut for Derby County’s first team while he was still studying here at school, aged just 15, writes Mark Cottingham.
However, recent headlines concerning Mason have been somewhat different, thanks to his well-publicised court appearance for drink-driving.
I never taught Mason personally, but I shared the real sense of dismay when I read the story.
Not only is Mason someone our students look up to and someone my colleagues are proud to have taught, his success demonstrates that if you hard and channel your talents, you too can be successful.
In that sense, he epitomises everything this school stands for, which is what makes his public fall from grace so dispiriting.
However, there is also a lesson for everyone here about human fallibility.
Yes, the consequences could have been dire and yes, he is a talented athlete representing a famous club.
But Mason is also still a real person with human flaws and shortcomings.
We tell our students that everyone makes mistakes, but what’s important is the way you learn from them and respond.
That’s why we all sincerely hope that Mason seeks to restore his reputation and his career through the hard work and dedication that got him there in the first place.
Just because someone is in the limelight for being good at one thing, it doesn’t mean they can be expected to be role models in every other way too.
Perhaps we could all follow the example of less-celebrated people who embody virtues like self-discipline, humility, and respect for others, rather than expecting our celebrities to be the saints we want them to be.
Mark Cottingham is the principal at Shirebrook Academy.