AFTER 24 years in the teaching profession, ‘green’ is not a term you would tend to use to describe Terry McCullough.
However, the St Mary’s Derrytrasna teacher has been named one of Northern Ireland’s ‘greenest’ teachers thanks to his role in making the rural primary school one of the most environmentally friendly in the country.
Mr McCullough took the runner up prize in the search for Northern Ireland’s ‘Green Teacher of the Year 2012’ at the end of an exciting competition organized by Belfast Harbour and Action Renewables.
The P6/7 teacher said: “Any school could apply for it. The children had to write 100 words each on why they thought their teacher was worthy of the award.
“We never heard anything back so I thought that was that. Then we got a phone call to say we were down to the last six schools.
“We got a free day at W5 for 24 pupils - all the P6s and P7s. After that was the awards ceremony.”
Mr McCullough added: “It was a great achievement for the school. I would lead the environmental campaign, but it is reflective of the whole school. We were recently awarded a Green Flag and got down to the last 10 of an Eco Unesco competition.
“There’s a lot of green initiatives at the school. We kept live bats here the year before last. This year we are doing a bee project. We’ve had Paul Mullholland from Derrymacash come in for talks and the children have seen hives and gone to the Loughshore to see the flowers pollinated by the bees.”
Mr McCullough also encouraged his pupils to plant vegetable patches, organised school trips to Oxford Island, set up a herb wheel and organized a visit from Ulster Wildlife Trust.
The Bleary man added: “It’s great to be able to let the children learn about their environment hands on. I would be very interested in wildlife, the environment and eco issues.”
The Green Teacher of the Year 2012 Awards came to a fun finale at an environmental challenge day at W5 during which seven shortlisted teachers and their classes enjoyed an interactive ‘Talking Rubbish’ show, took part in a team challenge to create and build wind turbines, as well as meeting Webster the Port Monster, Belfast Harbour’s Environmental Guardian.
Opening the Challenge Day at W5, Environment Minister, Alex Attwood said: “It is great to see what young people in Northern Ireland are doing to protect and improve our environment. This competition shows how well young people understand the issues and recognises adults who are Champions for the Environment. The teachers whom we celebrate here today have inspired their changes in school to make a difference by leading by example and that is the best teaching of all.
Ballycraigy Primary in Antrim took away the coveted top award with St Patrick’s Primary School in Holywood coming second and Belleek Primary and Carnmoney Primary claiming joint third. The other finalist schools included Dromore Primary, Tyrone, and St Colman’s Primary in Lisburn.