A fresh chapter in the history of Glengormley High commenced this month with the appointment of a new principal.
Mr Richard Massey took up the role at the Ballyclare Road school on April 9.
Richard, who came to teaching in 2004, spoke to the Times about what is his first appointment as a school principal.
He said: “I came into teaching later than most. When I left school after A Levels, I fell into a career in retail management.
“I worked for a company called Lifestyle Sports and interestingly, my first branch as a manager was in the Northcott Shopping Centre – literally metres from the school.”
The Dunmurry resident added: “I’ve held a whole range of posts prior to this which has been really helpful.
“I came into teaching in 2004 and have been a Head of Department, Head of Year, Special Educational Needs Coordinator, Senior Teacher and finally, was appointed as Vice Principal in my last school in 2012.
“I trained at Stranmillis for teaching Business Studies and Physical Education. Since coming into education, I’ve taught GCSE Business Studies, GCSE Learning for Life and Work, A Level Travel and Tourism and A Level Health and Social Care.”
Richard is married to primary school teacher, Ruth. The couple have three children aged 6, 12 and 14, something the new head teacher believes gives him an understanding into the challenges facing parents today.
He explained: “Having a child, particularly in Year 8 and a child in Year 10 sets an amazing reminder of the issues, emotions and confusion our parents can sometimes struggle with.
“These are not easy years for the child or the parent – they are years of big decisions and where there is limited experience or knowledge for the parent, they just want to turn to someone and ask ‘how do we actually do this?’
“I always remind parents when they are in my office – ‘we are on the same boat – I’m doing all of this at home too and it can be tough!’ A vital part of running the school is remembering success depends on a cooperative relationship and partnership with parents and carers. The mindset of ‘we are in this together’ is a key foundation when we wish for success.”
Although Richard has only been in the position for a number of weeks, he is impressed with what he has seen at the school.
He stated: “There is a huge work ethic amongst the staff and a real desire to see young people progress and achieve to their full potential.
“I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get to the know the pupils and the school is bursting with amazing young people who have high ambitions for their future. Of course, we know that a major factor for success in education is all about the involvement of the home.
“The support that we give to our children can be the difference between them failing and achieving. So, I hope to provide support for parents to empower them as to how they can support their child’s education.”
He added: “We have literally just redeveloped the GCSE curriculum so that in September, pupils will be given the opportunity to successfully achieve 11 or 12 GCSE grades.
“Alongside this, we have expanded our offering for A Level qualifications and my message is very clear – Glengormley High offers seven years settled education for your children.
“This is really exciting for our pupils and ensures that they are in the best position to compete for university places and jobs for the future.”
Drawing on his personal experience with the selection process for Primary 7 pupils, Richard said: “The pupils who arrive to Glengormley High have generally neither taken the AQE exams, or have not achieved the results required for the grammar sector.
“Quite often, they arrive with a sense of failing or at least, not feeling good enough. I too failed my transfer test way back in 1987 and my message is very simple - Your future is only as narrow as you believe it to be! You can impact on this school and country if you believe in yourself and put effort towards your goals.”