IT wasn’t just the wide-eyed Primary Ones who were getting used to their new surroundings of Strabane Controlled Primary this week. So was the school’s newest staff member, Cherith Thompson who has taken over the prestigious role as principal.
Cherith has taken up the mantle from previous head teacher, David Canning who retired earlier this year after an impressive 26 years in the position.
And while they are certainly big shoes to fill Cherith is well prepared for the challenge after holding a teaching position in Derry and as vice principal of Artigarvan Primary.
“The role is certainly going to be a challenging one but inspirational too,” Cherith said. But top of her busy agenda is learning the names of all her pupils. “Coming from small schools with close-knit communities where I knew everyone – to such a popular school is proving to be my greatest task but I’m privileged to be a part of it.”
Impressed with the familial feel of the school which she ascribes to her intuitive staff, Cherith also has her own family connections with her mother, Pearl Gamble holding a post as a special needs teaching assistant for 15 years.
“Not to sound cliché, I’m very lucky to work alongside staff who go above and beyond their call of duty. Every member of staff in this building gives 100 per-cent and will not hesitate to work outside of their job description. The school has so many strengths and the staff are genuinely fantastic.”
Graduating in 2000 from the University of Paisley in Scotland, Cherith has almost two decades of teaching under her belt and is keen to remain very much involved in the classroom. She will be taking Mrs Clarke and Mrs Donald’s P4 classes a few afternoons per week.
Strabane Controlled Primary boasts an enrolment of 250 pupils and 26 nursery children, as well as ten teachers including Ms Porter who has taken over from the recently retired Mrs Canning.
And whilst the school size proved initially daunting for Cherith she has assured the school is ‘big but friendly.’ “Strabane Primary has naturally evolved without any fuss over the past 50 years and the cross community nature means we have a lovely mix here. I am very much looking forward to the year ahead.”