Meet the Zenith Team
"Our strong commitment to CPD and professional learning is empowering teachers, support staff, and school leaders to achieve the very best possible outcomes."
Dan Steel, Headteacher, The King John School
Andy HodgkinsonChief Executive Officer
I started teaching modern languages in 1994 and then became an Advanced Skills Teacher for Essex. Having held various senior leadership positions, I became a secondary Headteacher in 2006 and then CEO for a small Trust in 2017. As a National Leader in Education I have supported many schools and recently completed an MBA in Educational Leadership. I still try make time to teach in my new role as CEO.
Cristina PortolesHeadteacher - Laindon Park Primary School
I first became a teacher in 1992 because I thought that working with children was far too much fun and far too rewarding to even be considered a job! I was lucky enough to be able to teach across the Primary stage, from Early Years onto Year 6, before I became Headteacher for Laindon Park Primary School & Nursery in 2009. This gave me the first-hand experience to understand and value the different stages of education and learning. What matters to me the most? To ensure that staff, children and parents have the best opportunities possible at our school, and that through our values of being aspirational, confident, resilient, and happy, we never stop learning and look to the future with curiosity, and the determination and skills to make a difference.
Steve DurkinHeadteacher - Castle View School
I started my career in teaching in 2004, training as a History teacher. Previously, I had a career in business in the private sector at senior executive level for a FTSE 100 company. I teach History, but I have taught a variety of Humanities subjects as well as Business Studies. I have held leadership roles in a variety of schools, serving different communities and I became Headteacher of Castle View School in 2016. I have a Masters in Teaching & Learning. I teach at our school as I believe it is important to maintain my skills as practitioner, my subject knowledge, and pedagogy. It is an aspect of my role that I very much enjoy and it keeps me rooted in my practice and the classroom, invaluable as a school leader.
Tammy NichollsHeadteacher- The James Hornsby School
I started teaching Physical Education in 2001, and have worked across 6 different schools, gaining a multitude of experience. I have had a number of senior leadership posts, including becoming a Specialist Leader of Education. I have a passion for supporting all students and meeting their needs, and became an expert in Safeguarding and student welfare, leading on a number of Mental Health and Well-Being projects across the Trust. I was appointed Headteacher at the James Hornsby School in March 2021.
Daniel SteelHeadteacher - The King John School
I started teaching in September 2000 in Newham, East London. I have held leadership positions in a variety of different schools, all with a wide range of contexts. This has allowed me to learn a great deal about how schools should perform and help to deliver an excellent all-round education for all young people. I find the role of being a Headteacher incredibly rewarding and I am always trying to find new ways of ensuring our school becomes the very best and improves the life chances of everyone.
Sarah HanmoreChief Financial Officer
As a qualified accountant I have over 20 years of experience in Finance. I have moved from the private sector into Education in 2018. I find the role of Chief Financial Officer exceptionally rewarding and very much enjoy working with our dedicated school finance teams.
Alan MechemDirector of Marketing and Communication
I joined Zenith after 16 years of working in education. As a parent I know the importance and value of good home/school relations and, as such, it is an absolute pleasure to oversee communication for the Trust as there is so much to share and celebrate across the schools. My knowledge and experience of being involved in school leadership complements the strategic output of the Trust, as well as my degree and wider understanding of the media.
Leigh ChristensenDirector of HR
Prior to joining the Trust I had a 20 year career in recruitment and compliance before moving into educational HR. As HR director, I enjoy supporting the schools in all elements of HR and payroll, as well as overseeing recruitment across the Trust. My particular passion is for staff well-being, development and benefits, I am excited about the programme the Trust have already implemented and exploring new initiatives for the future.
Sean GoodwinDirector of ICT Services
After completing my IT Professional apprenticeship in April 2012 I was initially employed as an ICT technician, before becoming Network Manager at the King John School in November 2014.
In October 2019 I became Director of ICT Services across Zenith Multi-Academy Trust. I aim to use my knowledge and experience to lead the Trust's IT Strategy, improving our school's ICT provision for students and staff alike.
Claire DayPA to the CEO & Governance Professional
I have worked in education since 2005, both as a personal assistant to headteachers and CEOs. I also have extensive experience as clerk to governing bodies and trust boards and currently provide additional support to our Trust in relation to governance matters.
Kate SmithHR Assistant
With nearly 20 years of recruitment and HR experience, I have worked within the Trust since 2018. I provide HR Admin and Payroll support to the Zenith HR Director and to the HR Managers within the schools, as well as overseeing recruitment advertising and responses across the Trust. With three young children, I know how important education is, as well as a good work life balance. I am proud to be part of a Trust that puts the welfare of the children at the heart of all they do.