Bonjour by Mr. McLaughlin

Posted on: 06/12/2019

Last week’s blog - ‘Au Revoir’ by Mrs. Stark - was somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster! I felt a great deal of happiness for a cherished colleague, knowing that she is heading into a thoroughly deserved (semi) retirement, surrounded by loved ones. We are all delighted that Mrs. Stark will remain with us as our French teacher, such is the positive impact that she makes in the school on a daily basis. Her consistency, commitment to the school and care for the children are inspirational for any young teacher.

Reading about her many accomplishments over her time spent at St. Helen’s College, I began to think about the very exciting new chapter that lies ahead for me in January. It also prompted me to reflect on my journey so far and to look to the future. How will I be remembered by the children, parents and colleagues I have worked with when I retire? I hope that it will be with the fondness that I am sure will be lavished upon Mrs Stark in the coming weeks! 

We have worked together very closely during the transition period to ensure that there is a seamless handover in the new year and I cannot wait to get started. For those of you who do not know me yet, here is a brief history of my background in education. My first step came whilst studying English literature at university. I taught a creative writing course to a Year 8 class in Winchester and it was a fantastic experience. Who knew that children were so creative and fun to work with! I went on to do some cover teaching in several challenging Hampshire secondary schools. At 21, this was certainly a character building exercise, but my curiosity around becoming a teacher remained unabashed!

After graduation, I worked as a teaching assistant in a small school for children with autism in Southampton. It was a delightful place to be; our class of five was like a little family in itself. Here, I learned so much about the importance of togetherness and treating every child as an individual with their own ways and needs, a tenet that will always remain a cornerstone of high quality teaching. This confirmed my desire to teach, and my alternative path as a sports journalist at BBC South took a back seat.

After a successful PGCE year in London, I took up my first post as a Year 3 class teacher. It was in my first ever interview lesson that I met a young lady named Miss Vig (you may know her as Mrs. McLaughlin – it must have been fate!). In this post, I became history and geography subject leader and I also taught in Year 5. One day, the mother of one of my pupils informed me that she would be moving on to a ‘St. Helen’s College’. A quick Google search later and I was very intrigued…

Since I first stepped foot through the door, I was struck by the confidence and friendliness of the pupils and the family atmosphere of the school. I was given a tour by Mrs. Crehan and throughout that first conversation, I knew that my ideas around education were firmly aligned with those of the school. A few weeks later, I was called in for an interview and the rest, as they say, is history. I have thoroughly enjoyed my first three years of working here and I am looking forward to many more.

All of the aforementioned experiences have led me to this opportunity, and I will grasp it with both hands. One thing that stands out to me throughout my time in education is the crucial role of strong relationships for building successful partnerships in the school environment. We have an open door policy at our school, and I will be dedicating a lot of time to building those all-important relationships, to help ensure that everybody in the St. Helen’s College community feels valued and supported at the school. So, whilst the name on the door will have changed, and I will forge my own path in this fantastic role, the passion, professionalism, sincerity and warmth that Mrs. Stark has brought to you all in abundance for so many years will certainly remain.

Finally, to our dear friend and colleague Mrs. Stark: ‘Merci beaucoup et à bientôt.’

Mr. McLaughlin