They say to teach is to touch a life forever. For me it’s been a great privilege to have worked as a teacher for the last 38 years.
A real highlight for me has been working with and supporting many, many youngsters, their parents and carers and the fantastic people in the communities of Mayfield, Easthouses, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Middleton and Temple. I have benefited from working alongside many talented colleagues both teaching and support staff.
Where does the time go? I still fondly remember my first year in teaching at Bathgate Academy before joining Newbattle CHS as a fresh faced 22-year-old. In fact, apart from a few years working in Edinburgh, I have enjoyed a long and happy association with Newbattle and Midlothian.
In the early years of my career I worked as a PE teacher and have many fond, memories of Newbattle youngsters enjoying a wide variety of sports and games. Alex Notman (Manchester Utd), Adam Nelson (Blackburn Rovers), Grant Murray (Hearts), Gary O’Connor (Hearts) and Linda McWhinnie (who went on to play pro football in Italy) all graced our school teams of that era and to this day I’m pleased to say our pupils excel on the football field. Pam Hutchison (basketball), David Cunningham (badminton), Debbie Smith (gymnastics) and Paul Conlan (bowls) were a few of the many others who reached international level in their various sports.
How things have changed across education in that time, calculators had still to hit the market and photocopiers had still to be invented! Eventually the first computers, BBC micros were introduced, now the school boasts dedicated computer suites, smartboards in every classroom and sets of i-pads in every faculty.
Particularly satisfying was being part of a journey that has seen Newbattle progress as a school witnessing many improvements across the communities we serve. At the closure of Greenhall HS I was tasked as an assistant headteacher with helping plan for and successfully integrating pupils and staff to our school. More recently, as headteacher, I led the school through the New Community School’s initiative and Schools of Ambition programme which both proved extremely beneficial in helping us raise aspirations, attainment and achievement. I was also very grateful for the opportunity to work as Midlothian’s Head of Education which extended my understanding of the challenges faced on a daily basis at the centre.
I recall a sixth form of 12 pupils, this session there was over 100 pupils. Attainment and achievement over time has steadily increased and our pupils go on to play their part in every facet of society. In recent times we have seen Lois Nelson, Bilal Azhar, and Taymoor Asghar all gain degrees in medicine, Ross Flockhart gain a post doctoral degree in cancer research at Sanford University in California with Rachel Wright being awarded top pharmacy student at Robert Gordon’s University – the list of successes is endless.
Looking to the future the school will move to a new £36 million building with state of the art facilities in 2018. I am confident that Newbattle will continue to help shape the lives of our young people for many years to come. Mr Gib McMillan has now taken up post working alongside me as our new Headteacher which will ensure a smooth transition of duties. I wish him every success in his new post and hope that he experiences the same tremendous support that I have had going forward.
The support of parents, carers and the wider community over the years has been very much appreciated. I’m confident that the school will continue to go from strength to strength. I will leave with many fond memories but a heavy heart and wish everyone associated with the school every success in the future.