AFTER a 34-year career of teaching at the same Letterkenny school, a school principal, who was loved by pupils and parents alike, has bowed out after receiving many glowing tributes and good wishes on her retirement.
A native of Ballymahon, Co Longford, Ann Foxe (55), completed her training for national school teaching at Froebel College of Education in Blackrock and was appointed to St Patrick’s NS, Lurgybrack in March 1982.
“I had been visiting a friend in Dungloe when I heard that there were a couple of teaching vacancies in the county. I applied for a job in Lurgybrack and got it – intially for three months up to June (1982) to cover maternity leave. That lady would later resign or retire and I was given a permanent job. I suppose I was in the right place at the right time,” she recalled this week.
Her love for teaching, her sensitivity for those who needed help, her pleasant and helpful manner, excellent teaching capabilities and her commitment to passing on the highest standards to her pupils were among her fine qualities now remembered by parents and pupils alike 34 years later.
“I taught junior infants for thirteen years and then graduated to first class moving my way right through to sixth. I suppose I was the last teacher in at that time and got whatever class was left at the end,” she quipped.
Ann was eventually appointed vice-principal of the school before taking over from Bryan Harkin as principal on his retirement in 2004.
‘Enjoyed every day’
“I spent all of my teaching years in Lurgybrack and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every day of it. That was due in no small measure to the many, many people who helped and supported me over the years. I would like to pay tribute to the pupils and the parents from Lurgybrack and the surrounding areas who sent children to school here. I am also very grateful to all who taught with me over the years as well as the different School Boards of Management,” she said.
When Ann joined the staff in 1982, enrolment fluctuated between 180 and 184 pupils. Today, that number has increased more than three-fold to 462.
“We used to teach a lot of the pupils in pre-fabs classes down through the years before we got the new extension in 2012. Now we have a state of the art, modern building with sixteen mainstream class-rooms and five learning support and resource rooms. We also got our new Autism centre in 2015,” she said.
“It was all ‘Chalk and Talk’ when I started to teach but the advent of IT means that has all changed nowadays – and for the better at that,” she said.
Like the school, Ann has watched Letterkenny’s growth down through the years.
“It’s a great town and one which I now proudly call home. Letterkenny has everything you need or want so why would I need to live anywhere else?” she asked.
“When I first arrived in Letterkenny, Lurgybrack was small school on top of the hill but that’s all changed. To me it’s the jewel in the crown. It possesses everything a modern school needs and more. Apart from the teahcing facilities we also have our own ball courts and, more importantly, a PE Hall. We used to have to go down to Bonagee and use their facilities which was tough going at times,” she recalled.
One issue at Lurgybrack National School which continues to raise its head is parking but that has improved too.
“We have our own staff car park now which makes it easier for parents to park outside the gates but you have to exercise caution and common sense which is always the case.
“The children have been great and they never fail to lift your spirits with the things they do and say. I’ve been very lucky but I’ve done my time and I’m moving on,” she smiled.
A keen traveller, Ann likes to get to the sun.
“I’ll take it as it comes but foreign travel to sunny destinations is definately on the agenda. I’m for Vegas at the end of the month and we’ll see what happens from there. It’s my time and I will take life as it comes,” she added.
The newly-appointed principal is Mr Annraoi Cheevers, who joins from Scoil Mhuire Milford.
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