LURGAN College has bid farewell and ‘au revoir’ to English and French teacher Gloria Matchett.
After 35 years teaching in Lurgan she said it was time for a rest.
Gloria came to the College from Lurgan Tech in 1991 as an English and French teacher. She spent 14 years at the Tech followed by 21 at the College.
Reflecting on that time at Lurgan College she said: “It’s just been a really happy place to work in. The friendless of staff stands out as do the pupils.
“There’s such a lovely family atmosphere at the school. Pupils feel very secure in that kind of environment. I’ve been very touched by good wishes I’ve received from past and present pupils and parents as well. I’ve been very, very happy here.
“There’s been challenges over the years from the outside, curriculum and Department of Education, but the school has taken on board changes and continued to reach high standards.”
She explained her interest in the logistics of linguistics: “Languages were my passion at school.
“I liked anything to do with languages. I like my own language, how it works and how it’s put to use. I liked learning grammar in English and then seeing how the same rules work in French and German. As well as French and English I did German up until Queen’s University.”
Gloria also has a passion for literature and lists Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ as one of her favourite works of all time. Despite having taught the book for 21 years as part of the English syllabus her love of the novel has not wavered.
She commented: “It’s about childhood and growing up and remains relevant today.”
She admitted that text messaging and social media have conspired to make the job of an English teacher that bit more difficult.
She said: “Kids are more able to express themselves orally but I feel that their ability to read has been affected by text messaging. Children today don’t read as much, there are so many other things that are competing for their attention - computers, video games, smartphones and that kind of thing.”
As well as teaching English and French, Gloria ran the community service at the school.
She said: “It was always great to see pupils in a different way, delivering hampers and meeting older people. I got a lot of enjoyment out of that.”
Gloria is married to Jim and together they have two children - Emily (29) and Patrick (25).
She is originally from Lisburn, but has been living in Magheralin for the past 30 or so years.
Gloria’s daughter Emily is following in her mother’s footsteps as a French and English teacher in Helensburgh in Scotland.
Gloria said: “I’d like to have a wee bit more time to travel and I’d like to be able to spend more time with my daughter in Scotland.
“I’d like to have a rest to be quite honest. I love a bit of gardening and I would like to do a bit more voluntary work with charities or the National Trust.”
She added: “I have mixed feelings about retirement. On one hand I’m looking forward to more time to myself and at the same time I’ll miss my colleagues and the young people who have been wonderful.”