Jordanstown man Johnny Graham will retire at the end of the month, bringing an end to a teaching career that has spanned 40 years.
The outgoing principal of the Belfast Model School for Girls admits that he will miss school life. But after 13 years at the helm, he says it’s the right time to move on.
Born and raised in Abbots Cross, Johnny attended Abbots Cross Primary School and later Methodist College in Belfast. He went on to study at Queen’s University and got his first teaching job at Dunlambert Boys in 1974.
Johnny, who taught economics and business, stayed at the school (which later became Castle High) until 1992 when he left to take up a vice principal’s post at Deramore High in south Belfast.
In 1994 he moved on to become a vice principal at Dromore High School in Co Down, before he took us his post at the Girls’ Model in 2001.
Johnny, who moved to Jordanstown in 1994, has many great memories of his time in teaching, and fondly recalls former students such as footballer Colin O’Neill and broadcaster William Crawley.
In 2012, he was awarded the OBE for services to education.
“I’ve loved it,” the 62-year-old told the Times. “I’ve loved the whole 40 years in education, but my time at the Girls’ Model was the icing on the cake. It’s been very, very enjoyable and very rewarding.
“I will miss the craic and the camaraderie. I will miss the staff and working with the kids.
“I will definitely miss it, but doing 15-hour days 40 weeks a year is gruelling. It’s a young person’s game. I will really miss it, but I know it’s the right time to go.”
Looking ahead to his retirement, Johnny says he will be working with new principals and vice principals as part of a Regional Training Unit programme. He is also planning to do some charity work.