Mrs Lynda Currie was recently confirmed as the Principal at Lurgan Junior Highs School - following a stint as acting principal.
It sees her in charge at the school where she began her teching career over 30 years ago - with the legendary Mrs Soye as her teacher tutor.
The mother of four children - all grown up and working now - has spent most of her working life teaching English and History.
Looking back on her career and hosw she started, Mrs Currie said: “As a student, I always enjoyed school. I never found it a chore. In fact for me, it was an opportunity to develop holistically.
“I enjoyed the social aspects of school, the challenges of being a pupil in my class, of being a member of the hockey team, the netball team, participating in House competitions, acting in the school play, striving for my Duke of Edinburgh Award, a prefect... all of those things that make you a member of your school community.
“School was a rewarding part of my life and the friendships and relationships I had at school with peers and teachers meant a lot to me. I learnt so much from everyone I met and very much valued the time, the effort and the consideration shown to me by the majority of my teachers throughout my education.
“As a past pupil of Ballinacorr PS, Waringstown PS, Lurgan JHS and Lurgan College, I had so many positive experiences throughout my education and I recognised very early on that if I could give back to my community some of those same values and those aspirations that I had been shown, that teaching in itself would be an incredibly worthwhile career path.
“I would like to pay tribute to those very same teachers who were such wonderful role models to me as I made the journey through primary and post primary education.”
She went on: “I have been teaching well over thirty years in a variety of roles. My first teaching appointment was in Lurgan JHS where I started as a Beginning Teacher under the tutelage of Mrs Soye, my Teacher Tutor.
“Mrs Soye, as many of your readers will know, was a hard task mistress who expected the best and settled for nothing less. I found her inspirational, a stickler for protocol, a promoter of discipline and hard work.
“As a beginning teacher, I was as fearful of Mrs Soye as many of her young pupils but I recognise that she instilled in me the value of preparation, of effective classroom management and the joy of providing our pupils with the skills and knowledge they needed to succeed further in their studies and in life.
“Unfortunately, my appointment to Lurgan JHS as a History teacher coincided with the ill health of my former teacher, Mrs Scott, also an amazing character, whose Scottish burr and story-telling held me in awe.
“I genuinely cannot remember my first days as a teacher but am certain that I, like most Beginning Teachers, believed that I could in some way make a positive difference to the lives of many of my pupils.
“I am sure that even then I had great expectations of my pupils and that I would have wished to give to each of them a self-belief, a level of confidence and a drive to succeed. Equally, I have no doubt that I entered school that first day with some degree of nervousness and apprehension. I continue to be grateful to Mrs Ferris, the Principal of Lurgan Girls’ at that time, for giving me this opportunity to teach in my former school.”
After a number of years at Lurgan Girls’ JHS and Lurgan Boys’ JHS, Mrs Currie taught in Bridge Integrated Primary School in Banbridge.: “This was an exciting opportunity when I had the privilege of teaching a P4 to P7 composite class and also working as Literacy Coordinator throughout the school. Regardless of what teaching role you have, it is a gift to recognise that in the role of ‘teacher’ you have a chance to mould a child, to build esteem, to empower and to guide.”
After four years at Bridge, she applied for Head Of Departmeent in English at Tandragee Junior High School and was successful.
Mrs Currie said: “Throughout my 16 years in Tandragee, I had many roles: Producer of the School Play, Special Educational Needs Coordinator, teacher in charge of Assessment and Reporting and in my final few years there, Vice Principal.
“In 2005, I was appointed as Vice Principal to Lurgan JHS and continued in that role until September 2013 when I stepped up to the position of Acting Principal. Thankfully, this was a time when all staff stepped up to the mark and worked together to ensure that it was business as usual. I appreciate and continue to appreciate their loyalty and generosity.
“Taking up the reins of Principal in 2015 is without doubt a new and welcoming challenge. I am very much aware that this position is ever changing, no two days are the same, and every day is a school day – and that is not just for the pupils.
“However, one thing remains unchanged; I am working in a people industry. My stakeholders are pupils, staff, parents, governors and the wider community and my job is to ensure that each body understands and recognises the value of education and the doors it opens for opportunities to grow in every respect.
“Whilst I can’t remember my source, I do believe that ‘The foundation of every country is the education of its young people.’ I stand by that.”
Of the changes she has witnessd at Lurgan Jumnior High, she said: “My arrival has seen many staffing changes (in the majority of cases due to redundancy and retirement) and in recent times Mr J Johnston’s leaving cast a huge shadow. He was and is a man of integrity and someone the entire staff miss considerably. We also miss Mr T Mackey who gave a lifetime of service to the school as VP and HOD Mathematics.”
Sher added: “In terms of school building, we have extended car-parking for staff, refurbished the Technology Suite and state of the art 3 G pitches as well as a school studio for school and community use.
“In the last two years we have seen a major upturn in intake with up to 40% of our pupils coming from areas outside Lurgan and Waringstown. This has been extremely good news for us and has meant that we can continue to keep a positive pupil teacher ratio at a time when other schools have had to increase theirs. I believe this is due to a committed and dedicated staff within the school, who have the privilege of providing a first rate Key Stage 3 education for our young people.
“In terms of education, I can see that many of our young people are certainly more focussed on their future career paths. Most recognise that qualifications open more doors and with the support of their parents they understand that having that strong foundation for GCSEs has never been more important. Literacy and numeracy have also had a very strong focus in school and to this end all subject areas have incorporated these areas within their schemes of work.
“In addition, electronic literacy is a priority in today’s society and with it come the enormous challenges of e safety. As a school and as part of the community, we will continue to raise the bar for all our pupils, to provide challenges, opportunities and support when it is needed.
Of her vision for the junior high: “As I have said before, we live in an ever changing world. For many of the pupils we teach today in school the workplace will be much more competitive, there may not be jobs for life, our children may have multiple careers.
“The one thing I can guarantee for our current pupils is change. As such, what is important is to ensure that they have the skills, the knowledge, the confidence, the resilience, the attitude and the persistence to develop each of those aspects as much as they can. As a school we have to strive to develop within our pupils all of those qualities. To do this effectively we need the support of our parents and our community.
“The School Motto is the 3 ‘R’s - Respect for self, Respect for others and Responsibility for all your learning and actions. The School Mission Statement is ‘Empowering you to reach your potential, to feel respected, cared for and equal.’ Both sum up the vision, the values and the ethos of Lurgan JHS. Taking responsibility for yourself and your future is an incredible vision but it is also realistic and achievable for everyone.
“Being respectful is the very essence of civilisation. I firmly believe in both and know that these specific values are the foundation for success. My vision for the school is to continue to serve my community in the best way possible and that is to provide a first rate education in a secure and safe environment which allows children to develop the ability to think, to question and to take action in order that they too can be valued members of their community.”
On the much deabetd issue of the Dickson Plan Mrs Currie said: “The Dickson Plan has many strengths and has provided an excellent education for many. Lurgan Junior High School provides a strong foundation at Key Stage 3 for GCSEs. Whilst at LJHS, pupils follow the NI Curriculum performing well at KS3 moderation in Using Communication and Mathematics. Our pupils have many opportunities to take on leadership roles in Year 10 e.g. Head boy, Head girl, prefects, mentors, House Captains, Team Captains and key roles in school performances. There is a vast range of extra-curricular activities and clubs.
“In Lurgan, our school is one of three within the Dickson Plan. There are also Lurgan College and Craigavon Senior High ( Lurgan Campus).
“LJHS feeds into both schools and I know of many successful pupils graduating from each educational establishment. However, whilst Lurgan College has an educational pathway after GCSE providing A level courses, pupils leave Craigavon Senior High School after two years at the age of 16. For these young people there is no clear progression and many have to go further afield to finish their education.
“I believe that all young people should be educated in their own community, that education should be easily accessible for all and that there is merit in continuity of education for everyone. I have no doubt that Area Planning will be the biggest challenge going forward but I have faith in our educators and in the Education Authority to ensure that there is equality of provision at the earliest opportunity.”