ALANAH McGlinchey tells this reporter that it has been “such a boost” to have been the recipient of Inspirational Secondary School Teacher at the recent Andersonstown News Inspirational Youth of the West gala ceremony held in the Devenish Complex.
The Religion teacher who has been a familiar face among the halls and corridors of St Louise’s Comprehensive College since 2013 also teaches a Year Nine form class who are still bringing in congratulatory cards and presents for the popular teacher.
A graduate of St Mary’s University College, Alanah told the Andersonstown News that she felt “really proud of myself, of St Louise’s and for the pupils when I heard about the Inspirational Youth nomination”.
“When it actually happened, that my name was read out on the night, it was just so nice. I am not doing the work here for the students to recognise me in that way, I teach because I love it but it was such a great boost. I came into the classroom so happy and delighted to share the news with the class,” she said.
Alanah spoke of the importance of young teachers making their mark in the city especially with so many who are choosing to go across the water or travel further afield.
“Loads of my friends have left and gone to Liverpool, places like Qatar. I’m very much a home bird, I love being here, teaching here but I ask myself the question what does going across to Liverpool to teach have that we don’t have here at home? How are we supposed to make young lives better if we leave and take our skills elsewhere?
“There is a young teaching staff in the Religion department here and our big focus is very much on ethics, making the subject more relevant to the pupils’ lives, how do you live out your faith through action? The girls I teach are so kind, there is a real kindness about our pupils, they would offer you the food from their lunch boxes, they are just so, so caring. At the minute our ‘Mini Marillacs’ named after St Louise, are collecting for the homeless and I would put a big emphasis on helping those less fortunate and the girls would bring in hats, gloves, scarfs, toiletries which are then brought to the Legion of Mary for distribution.”
“Our sixth years go up to St John’s residential home every Tuesday to make cups of tea, bring buns and biscuits for the elderly. I can see them from my window and it just makes me smile knowing they are going up and more importantly want to go up, you don’t have to police them,” she said.
Alanah spoke warmly of the “community spirit” in St Louise’s and how “everybody knows everybody” as school life presents “always something new”.
“This is a huge school but you know everyone in it. It’s like a wee family. There isn’t a day I don’t laugh in this school,” she said.