Respected staff set to retire at Ballyclare High

Ballyclare High School's retiring teachers Tom Stewart, Frank Gault and Valerie Johnston.
Ballyclare High School's retiring teachers Tom Stewart, Frank Gault and Valerie Johnston.
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BALLYCLARE High School will this year bid a fond farewell to four respected and valued members of staff at the end of the school year.

Teachers Frank Gault, Tom Stewart and Valerie Johnston have between them amassed over 100 years at the school.

Ian Davies who is retiring as Building Supervisor in Ballyclare High School.

Ian Davies who is retiring as Building Supervisor in Ballyclare High School.

Chemistry teacher Mr Gault will be remembered for his many years as the school’s rugby coach.

He began his life at the school as a pupil in 1967 and went on to represent Ballyclare High in Rugby, Cricket, Athletics and Chess.

He also played in the all-conquering rugby team which won the 1973 School’s Cup.

After he gained his teaching qualification, Mr Gault joined the school’s staff in 1979.

Amanda Hall, teacher of ICT in Ballyclare High School, is leaving to take up a new post at  Portora Royal School.

Amanda Hall, teacher of ICT in Ballyclare High School, is leaving to take up a new post at Portora Royal School.

Since then he has been a member of the Ulster Schools’ Rugby Committee as well as a selector and coach for Ulster Schools’. He has also worked hard to develop the subject of Chemistry at the school.

Tom Stewart will end his career on the Senior Leadership Team of the school. He also contributed to the school’s extra-curricular life as a football coach.

Mr Stewart started life in the school in the same year as Mr Gault, teaching Technical Drawing, Physics and Science.

Later he went on to teach Computer Studies and Technology and Design. He was then promoted to Head of Technology and then became a Senior Teacher in 2008.

Before Mr Stewart joined the staff there was no football taught at the school and under his guidance the school entered the various East Antrim competitions, wining numerous competitions.

Mr Stewart said his greatest coaching achievement was the 1991 Under 17s success in lifting the Schools’ Esso Youth Cup after beating the Boys Model in the final.

Valerie Johnston has provide a sterling service to the school as Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator.

She said: “It feels like a very short time ago that I joined the school as a student teacher.

“Little did I know then that I was to spend 30 years and my entire teaching career at Ballyclare High School.

“The school has changed so much over the years. It is a far cry from the days of the huts, but what remains unchanged over the years is the ethos, values and beliefs of the school which have remained undiminished.

“The fact that every child matters is key to the success while the family and community spirit of the school is what I believe keeps it ranked among the best in the country.

“People may ask what has kept me here all these years and that is easy to answer. It is the wonderful young people I have had the privilege of working with. They are and have been, quite simply, wonderful.”

Also retiring this year is Building Supervisor Ian Davies (pictured inset) who has been with the school since 1989.

He has covered many miles running round the school at everyone’s beck and call, helping staff and pupils alike.

Information Communication Technology (ICT) teacher Amanda Hall (pictured inset) is leaving the school to take up a position in Portora Royal School in Enniskillen.

School Principal, David Knox paid tribute to the outgoing members of staff, wished them all well, and said: “Together they have each made a major contribution to the life of the school.

“All will be fondly remembered by pupils and staff and the school wishes them a long and happy retirement.”