THERE will be lots of happy memories for the Dunamanagh principal who retires this year, after almost four decades in education.
David Canning, who has dedicated his entire teaching career to the children of Strabane, will officially retire on August 31.
In his 38 years as a teacher – 32 of which were as a principal – Mr Canning has taught in Bready, Artigarvan and for the past 26 years in Strabane Controlled Primary School.
Educated in Grove Primary School in North Belfast, Mr Canning returned to Strabane to finish his secondary education at the old Strabane Grammar School and it was here that he decided he wanted to become a teacher.
He then went on to study in Stranmillis University College Belfast, before taking up his first position as a teacher at the old Bready Primary School.
Looking back on his career Mr Canning said it has been “very satisfying.”
“To be able to watch children come into school and reach their full potential, not just academically but also through pastoral care, sport and the arts, gives you a wonderful sense of achievement,” said Mr Canning.
“It is equally rewarding to see a child with special needs reach the pinnacle of their education potential and watch them overcoming barriers. For me, that was what my job is all about.
“Education is vital for people to live satisfying lives,” continued Mr Canning.
“When people have an education they are able to support themselves. It is particularly vital here in the West, because opportunity is more limited. That is why it is so important all children receive a solid education.”
Making his retirement that little bit more special for Mr Canning is the fact his wife June, who is a special needs teacher at Strabane Primary School is also retiring.
Mr Canning, who is also a history fanatic says he and his wife are looking forward to spending more time with their four children; Catherine, Ruth, David and Sharon and their granddaughter Abigail.
Reflecting on his last few days at Strabane Primary School Mr Canning added, “I have lots of happy memories from being a teacher and a principal and each of those are associated around children.
“To see a children reach their full potential and then come up and say, ‘thank you,’ those for me are the memories I will cherish most.
“It truly has been a very satisfying and rewarding career.”
Despite retiring Mr Canning is not quitting education just yet and will remain on in his roles as chairman of the General Teachers Council of Northern Ireland and as a member of the National Teachers Board for the Northern Ireland Executive.
Cherith Thompson, who is currently vice principal of Artigarvan PS has accepted the position of principal of Strabane Controlled primary and will take over from Mr Canning in August.