Maura bids a fond farewell to St Ciaranís

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Maura bids a fond farewell to St Ciaranís thumbnailSt Ciaran's College, Ballygawley principal Mr Lavery presents a floral tribute to Mrs McStay, who has retired after 32 years at the school

LAST week was full of mixed emotions for the staff and pupils of St Ciaran's College, Ballygawley as they bade farewell to a teacher who had taught at the school for more than three decades.

The school's senior teacher of pastoral care, Maura McStay has retired after 30 years in post.

While the excitement and buzz of the approaching summer break was in full flow many in the school felt a tinge of sadness as they begin to realise a pillar of the school community for so long will not be present when the first bell of the new school year rings in September.

Speaking to the Courier prior to her final day, Maura, from Killeeshil, explained that her emotions were running high as she prepared to say goodbye to a career she found so enjoyable and fulfilling.

"It would be fair to say I have very mixed emotions," she said.

"I knew I always wanted to teach from I was in primary school. Others had said to consider other careers but I always came back to teaching and I have never regretted it."

Maura gained her teaching qualification at St Mary's in Belfast and taught in the city in the early days of her career before arriving at St Ciaran's in 1985.

"I was employed as a teacher of general studies in St Ciaran's. I would have taught Geography, Religious Education and English before I became a full time RE teacher and about 18 years ago I took the position of the school's senior teacher of pastoral care.

"I was employed by Eugene McSorley, he was the school's principal at the time and he was incredibly supportive of all his staff and was a great person to have around the school."

Despite not having one standout moment from her career, Maura points to those days where a pupil fully grasps what she is trying to teach them as her most fulfilling moments.

She was also keen to highlight the fantastic sense of humour her pupils had and recalled many pranks that had been played both by them and her.

Having joined the school during such a troubling time, Maura knows just how close the school community is.

"While the majority of my time has been very enjoyable we have had some hard times at St Ciaran's," said Maura.

"We have lost colleagues and pupils and in these periods of adversity I would say St Ciaran's really comes into its own."

Reflecting on the changes to the job over the course of her career, Maura noted the ever increasing amount of paperwork as a real game changer and stressed the importance of not overburdening teachers with paperwork.

Looking ahead, Maura revealed she has no plans to return to the school on a part time basis, nor will she sever all ties with it.

"There comes a time in life when you know it is time to move on and it is a decision you do not take lightly," she said. "I don't intend to return part time when I have retired, I plan to take a good rest, really I have no plans, I have been so busy and I will take time off and just have a break.

"I intend to travel with my husband, my kids and my younger sister and I will have good holidays.

"This is a journey to the new, however I don't think I will ever completley sever ties with the school.

"It might sound twee but I will always hold the school in my heart and will miss the the pupils and of course my colleagues."

Asked to sum up her career, Maura said: "My time in teaching and especially in St Ciaran's has been brilliant overall. I have enjoyed it all, I have no regrets about any of it."


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