The incoming principal of Ballyclare High says she’s “excited and privileged” to be taking the school forward into a new chapter.
Dr Michelle Rainey will take over as headteacher from Mr David Knox, following his retirement later this summer.
Originally from Bangor, Dr Rainey attended Glenlola Collegiate and went on to Queen’s University to study Geography, Geology and Zoology. She completed a PhD in Physical Geography and later attained her PGCE at the University of Ulster in Coleraine.
The 46-year-old started her career as a geography teacher at Ballyclare High 19 years ago.
“It was my first job interview. I walked through the doors and felt the place and loved it,” she said.
Dr Rainey, a talented hockey player and coach, has worked her way up “through the ranks” over the years, serving as head of year, head of department, senior teacher, vice principal and now soon to be principal.
Selected for the prestigious role out of nine candidates who applied for the job, she will be only the second female principal in the school’s more than 100-year history.
“I feel very excited and I feel privileged to be taking the school forward into a new chapter,” she told the Times. “Having the firm foundation that has been built over the 15 years of Mr Knox’s legacy, I feel the school is in a healthy position, not only in academic terms, but also sport, music, drama and all of that stuff, as well as staff morale.
“Although there are perhaps difficult times ahead financially, I think we have the willingness of the pupil population and the staff to continue with the ‘can do’ mentality that Mr Knox has introduced and that gives me a lot of hope for the future, despite the difficulties that might be thrown our way.”
Dr Rainey recognises that big challenges lie ahead, not only in terms of budgetary constraints, but also the pressures coming from the Department of Education. But she says she has faith in the staff and board of governors to work together as a team to help steer the school in the right direction.
“I would like us to sustain what we have already got and I would like us to sustain that sort of pride in our ability to develop a whole child - not just an academic child, but also on the sports field, on the stage and so on. I would like the children to continue with that aspirational attitude and for their parents to continue to see the school as a shining light in the community, with respect to opportunities afforded to them alongside our partners in the Secondary School.”
The outgoing principal believes Dr Rainey is the right woman for the job.
“I think that the staff will fall in behind her because they know that whatever she does she gives it 101 per cent. She is a great learner and I believe that Ballyclare High School will go from strength to strength under her leadership,” Mr Knox said.