Last week we bid farewell, slan agus beannachtai to Treasa, the retiring Priomhoide of the Gaelscoil so this week we turn to acknowledge the great contribution of Mr Michael White, another local principal who has given a life time of service to his school, pupils and the Ballygunner community and environs.
Michael White is stepping down as principal of St. Mary’s Ballygunner after 29 years at the helm there during which time he oversaw and guided the school to become the respected institution it has became today. He was appointed to the position – one of the first duties of Fr. Liddane on becoming Parish Priest- in 1980 to be principal of a six teacher school at Ballygunner Cross taking over from the legendary James McGinn. But over the subsequent 29 years of his stewardship Michael carved out his own considerable legacy. The school moved to a new a green-field site nearby in 1991 and initially expanded to two additional classes and 8 teachers from a pupil roll of 220. Since then the school has grown and developed, by 2000 it had doubled in size with 16 classes plus an Autistic unit, a remedial unit, a resource unit and a full time principal. A final extension of another 8 mainstream classrooms, 2 Autistic rooms and a sports hall was completed in 2006. Total roll numbers have reached to just under 600 with an overall staffing level of 52, consisting of 32 mainstream teachers with a full complement of teaching support staff as well as grounds and administrative personnel.
It is now probably the largest primary school in the Waterford city area though at this stage reaching its maximum capacity. When Michael White took over in 1980 the Ballygunner N.S. was serving a population of about 6,000, today that is at least 16,000 within the parish itself. Today’s school sees its many pupils attending a state-of-the art facilities with an excellent and dedicated staff and as such is a wonderful tribute to Michael for his tireless work, dedication and commitment to the school. Ballygunner NS is generally regarded as being one of the first primary schools to introduce computers into classroom learning environment – chun cinn i gconai I gcursai leinn!
Farewells and Tributes
There was a special dinner-dance at the Woodlands Hotel recently on the last Friday of term and his tenure as principal with a great turn-out of over 250 to pay a well deserved tribute to Michael White. Fine words of gratitude, appreciation and due tributes were paid for the excellence of his contribution to the school and the community it serves. Among the various presentations was a great painting of the bay at Dunmore East by Marley Irish. I myself appreciated the opportunity of meeting again with Michael White to have a cupla focal and wish him well.
The following Tuesday morning, the 30th June, the last day of term and thus teaching career of Michael White was celebrated by way of a Musical Tribute to an Fear Fein. Again, there was a great attendance when a considerable number of parents joined with the pupils and staff to enjoy the array of the school’s musical talents of choir, band, dance and piano finishing with such favourites as Hey Hobo Man; Consider Yourself; and the ever touching – So Long Farewell. Catherine Landers, Chairperson of Parents Association made a presentation made a final presentation to Michael on behalf of the appreciative parents.
Michael White- An Fear Fein.
Michael of course, is a proud Waterford man and was educated in Mount Sion Primary and Secondary Schools. In 1965 he headed for Drumcondra, Dublin to St Patrick’s College of Education to commence his teacher which launched him on his career. Following qualification in July 1967 he was appointed to his first teaching post in Youghal CBS but he was soon to return to Waterford to take up a position in Passage East National School the following year. His next move in 1970 was not too far away to his first post as principal in Faithlegg which then was a two-teacher school until 1973. This school too prospered under his principalship during his ten-year tenure there. Then in 1980 he was appointed Principal at St. Mary’s Ballygunner as alluded to above, and as they say, the rest is history! I was both interested and impressed to learn that Michael has been actively involved in a number of committees both locally and nationally. From 1981 to 1998 he was involved with the National Council for ageing and Older People which he chaired for a number of years. He also chaired the National Steering Committee for the United Nations International Year of Older Persons in 1999. He is still a director of Waterford & South Tipperary Regional Youth Service with whom he has been involved since its inception some 40 years ago. So above and beyond his great work on behalf of his school he has given sterling service to the greater community as well.
We give the final word to Bina Glynn who at the his farewell night at the woodlands spoke on behalf of the staff set out his educational vision, which was to provide the optimum learning experience for every child that attended St Mary’s Ballygunner. Furthermore, Bina acknowledged that in his role as a mentor he enabled staff to grow not only as educators but also as people – a fitting and worthy tribute indeed to the career of Mr Michael White. We too wish him well and an active and fulfilling retirement-
Go n-Eiri Leat agus Gach Dea-Ghui.
Just a short item to draw your attention to a House Clearance Auction in this area next Weekend/Monday. The house in question is ‘Shalom’ on the Williamstown Road and I’m told there will be considerable interest in this auction given the quantity and quality of the full range of house and garden furniture etc that will come under the hammer. Weilding the ‘hammer’ will be the inimitable and hugely experienced Rody Keighery of William Street, Waterford. Such is the likely interest is that viewing of the auction items will take place at “SHALOM” from Friday 10th throught to Sunday 12th, from 12 – 5 pm each day And from 9 am on morning of the sale which will commence at the property at 11am, Monday 13th July. The house is off the Farronshoneen/Williamstown Roundabout on the Ring Road – follow the signs from there. Well worth checking out, I’d say!
Memories -What Memories?
And now for something completely different to tell you before I forget it
-A couple in their nineties are both having problems remembering things. During a check-up, the doctor tells them that they’re physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember
Later that night, while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair. “Want anything while I’m in the kitchen?” he asks. “Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?”
“Sure.” “Don’t you think you should write it down so you can remember it?” she asks.
“No, I can remember it.”
“Well, I’d like some strawberries on top, too. Maybe you should write it down, so’s not to forget it?”
He says, “I can remember that. You want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries.”
“I’d also like whipped cream. I’m certain you’ll forget that, write it down?” she asks.
Irritated, he says, “I don’t need to write it down, I can remember it! Ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream – I got it, for goodness sake!”
Then he toddles into the kitchen. After about 20 minutes,
The old man returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs. She stares at the plate for a moment.
“Where’s my toast?”
Go Seachtain Eile, Slan.