THE proud principal of Garryduff Primary School, Irene McKenzie, is set to step down in August but she has revealed to the Times the school will never be far from her thoughts.
That’s because Mrs McKenzie’s home is just a few hundred yards away from the small rural school with a big heart which she can actually see from her her home which is also well within earshot of the laughter and chatter of youngsters in the playground.
She is stepping down after 36 years at the school where she has spent all her teaching career apart from one year at a primary school in Liverpool.
At one stage Garryduff only had 26 pupils but now it is almost 70 and with a re-built new school and a big official opening attended by First Minister Peter Robinson in recent weeks Mrs McKenzie leaves the school in a buoyant position for the future.
Mrs McKenzie, who is originally from Ballymena, is now well settled in Garryduff and although she is leaving the school she has no intention of leaving the area.
“That is the nice thing about being in Garryduff. I feel very much part of the community and it was more than a job for me. I have so many lovely memories and my son and his wife first met each other when they were in P1 and P2 at the school.
“I have taught sons and daughters of pupils I taught years ago and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the school.
“I believe Joey Dunlop went to the school for a short time before I came and over the years, particularly when he lived a short distance away from us, he was always very good to the school and would come in and allow children to have their photos taken with them and sign their books.”
Mrs McKenzie said a highlight of her career at Garryduff was the big official opening in recent days.
She added: “I would like to thank the Board of Governors, the staff, parents and children. They have all been wonderful and are second to none. They have been so supportive. A school is only as good as the people in it and they really have been great.”