Maureen Irvine, Holy Trinity Nursery’s beloved and well-respected principal for the past 33 years, is to retire.
A special event was held last week at the Civic Centre, where she was presented with gifts and flowers by staff.
But when she leaves her much loved school after Christmas Miss Irvine has no plans to relax, but instead wants to work as a volunteer for special needs children.
Miss Irvine trained as a teacher at St Mary’s and took up her first post at St Oliver Plunkett’s Primary School on the Glen Road before she joined Holy Trinity Nursery in Tonagh in 1980 where she has remained ever since.
“I have seen a lot of changes in the school and in people’s circumstances over the years and what they require from education,” said Miss Irvine.
“We now offer parenting classes including flower arranging which is very popular among them and we also offer more opportunities for the pupils including gardening opportunities for the children.
“We now have had children from both sides of the community from the parish of Blaris that stretches as far as Ballynahinch and children from all countries and ethnics including Poland, Latvia, and the Phillipines.
“We have had five inspection reports since I have been here.
“We had yet another great inspection report recently where we were praised for the quality of education which was described by the Education Board as ‘outstanding’ as was the pastoral care.
“I have been lucky with the team that I have who have been excellent and who always go that extra mile for the school.
“They are always very hard working which reflects on the children.”
Even though she plans to leave Holy Trinity School she is still eager to continue teaching if it is on a voluntary basis.
“I would like to do a bit of crafts but would ultimately like to work with special needs children on a voluntary basis,” she said.
“I knew that it was time for me to go. I have seen second generations of families going through our doors.
“I will miss the school and the staff and of course the parents and the community too.
In a recent inspection report the school was praised for its work.
“In the areas inspected the quality of the education provided by this nursery school is outstanding; the quality of the pastoral care is outstanding.
“The school has the capacity for sustained self improvement.”
There are currently 52 full time children at the school.