Clounagh Junior High School principal Trevor Canning will retire at the end of August, having spent all 41 years of his teaching career at the school.
“I had no idea where Clounagh was when I applied for a job teaching maths in 1975,” he confessed, “but it has been a wonderful experience.”
“The people of Portadown were so welcoming. I felt at home from the moment I arrived,” added the Lurgan man.
Appointed vice-principal in 1991 and principal in 2005, he has steered the school through significant changes over the past 11 years.
The Education and Training Inspectorate recently evaluated 93 per cent of the lessons as “good or better”, much to his delight.
Despite the increased paperwork in education, teaching remains his first love. “I still get the same buzz that I got all those years ago when I step into a classroom to teach maths or science,” he said.
He takes pride in the academic achievements of former pupils now occupying significant and influential posts but added, “I have always had a special place in my heart for the children from our Learning Support Centre.
“I remember meeting one young man who had got a job as a hospital porter and it was so rewarding to see how he had progressed.”
With 40 years’ service in Scouting, Mr Canning has fond memories of the Clounagh Scout Troop, especially camping trips to Seaforde, County Down.
He is proud of the school’s sporting success too, noting that an unprecedented eight track and field records have been broken this year alone.
And he has particularly enjoyed the school’s musical productions over the years but says the annual Christmas carol service gave him “a joy second to none.”
Mr Canning credits his predecessors – Norman Dickson, the late Gerald Hampton and the late DL Watson – with shaping his career, adding, “I learned from all of them.”
A man of deep personal faith, he attributes the school’s success during his time there to “the incredible goodness of God”. He has also paid tribute to the Board of Governors, vice-principals and all the staff for their support.
Arnold Hatch, chairman of the Board of Governors, said Mr Canning had been “a very caring principal, focused on pastoral care and especially on children with special needs”.
Trevor and his wife Joycelyn, who is retiring as head of science at Tandragee Junior High School on the same day, have no immediate plans.
They have two sons – Jonathan (24), who is working as a pharmacist, and Matthew (19), who is studying dentistry at Queen’s University, Belfast.
“I will miss Clounagh,” he admitted, “I will miss the people. I will miss the children. But the time is right for me to go.”