BALLYCLARE Secondary School will say “sayonara” to four respected and valued members of staff at the end of the school year.
Vice-Principal David Farrell along with teachers Colin Manson, Tom Lewis and Liz Alexander have notched up well over 100 years in the classroom between them.
David Farrell began his career teaching History at Glengormley High School in 1976 before taking up his current post as Vice-Principal at Ballyclare Secondary where he taught History and ICT.
“Things are so dramatically different to when I started out,” said Mr Farrell.
“In 1976, all you had was a stack of textbooks, some chalk and a blackboard.
“Today the level of technology involved is incredible and it has changed teaching significantly from what it once was.”
He added: “I will miss the contact with the pupils and watching them develop over the years, and also the contact with the staff at the school.”
Mr Farrell has also been the driving force behind the school’s Japanese programme.
Since his arrival in 1998 pupils have taken part in student exchanges, school trips and video conferencing with schools in the Toyama region.
In 2008 the school was awarded the British Council Silver Medal for helping to build links between the UK and Japan and in the same year Mr Farrell was awarded the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation for his work establishing links between UK and Japan.
And later this year the popular teacher is travelling to the country to receive a Distinguished Honorary Professorship for his dedication and support of various projects.
He continued: “The programmes with schools in Japan help to build the pupils’ understanding and appreciation of other cultures and ways of life.
“It also takes them out of their comfort zone and, hopefully, they realise there is a big wide world out there for them to go off and explore.”
In retirement David is planning to continue his work building links between schools in the UK and those in Japan. He is also a member of the Crescent Church in Belfast and will be continuing his work and involvement with it.
Head of Technology, Tom Lewis, began his career at Parkhall High School in Antrim before moving to Ballyclare in 1978.
He qualified as a Science teacher, but after re-training he became a teacher in the newly emerging subjects of Technology and Design before becoming Head of Department.
He said: “In taking early retirement I will miss the interaction with the vast number of brilliant students and the friendship of so many dedicated colleagues - but I won’t miss the vast amount of administration which has burdened the teaching profession in recent years.”
Mr Lewis plans to enjoy retirement on his farm and will be kept busy with his many church commitments.
Also retiring this year is Head of the school’s History department, Colin Manson.
He started teaching in 1977 and told the Times: “The advances in technology have had a huge impact on teaching methods in comparison to 30 years ago.
“I’ll miss the contact with pupils, seeing them develop and fulfil their potential over time.”
Mr Manson, who once took a one-year sabbatical in Japan, plans to return to visit the country during his retirement.
He added: “Japan was a fantastic experience and I am planning to return and also pursue interests such as photography, hill walking and foreign languages in my retirement, plus lots more.”