That’s the aim of the new principal of Damhead Primary School who says she has been thrilled by a fantastically warm welcome to the rural school.
Jill Laverty took over from Norma Reilly as headmistress at the beginning of April following sixteen years at DH Christie where she was latterly the Vice Principal.
Jill told The Times this week: “I’ve received such a wonderful reception from everyone at the school, from the children, the staff, Board of Governors and the parents and I realise I have very big shoes to fill after Mrs Reilly.
“The children are all so lovely and have already set me a challenge of knowing one hundred of their names after two weeks.
“Having passed this challenge they have now set me the challenge of knowing every child’s name by the end of May.
“They set a very high standard here at Damhead”.
“We have a sign at the school that says ‘Children First’ and my intention as principal is to provide a nurturing environment for all our pupils so that they can thrive, not only academically, but in every way possible.
“Here at Damhead it is very much a team approach to everything and I want to build on the excellent foundations already in place.”
Jill, who began her teaching career at St Mary’s Primary School in Aghadowey, before joining DH Christie, says that she wants Damhead pupils to be given every opportunity to thrive.
“We have introduced a Breakfast Club with up to thirty children attending each morning and we’re delighted to provide that for our families.
“We have also started our first After Schools Programme with football, cricket, Miniversity, tennis and cookery on offer.
A more varied programme including hockey, gymnastics, drama and languages is being introduced when a new term starts in September.
Jill added: “We have very talented and enthusiastic children at Damhead and I believe it is important that they get as many opportunities as possible.”
“After a very successful meet and greet evening, a Parents and Friends Association is currently being set up which will be of great support to the school not only in terms of fundraising but also bringing the community into our classrooms.
“For me it’s all about the children, making sure they are happy.
“I want to see children coming to school happy and leaving school happy.
“It’s an exciting time at Damhead.”
There are currently 197 pupils at Damhead with eight teachers and enrolment will rise to more than 200 in September.