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Blackboard Awards 2023

Adrian McCrystal, St John the Baptist

Subject or Primary school year: P7 teacher
Your place of birth: Lavey
Studied at: University of Ulster Jordanstown then St Andrew’s Glasgow
First job: At 16 I started working for a road surfacing contractor, raking tar behind a spreader.
What it taught me: To work hard for my A levels and beyond so I wouldn’t have to rake tar every day for the remainder of my life.
Family/status: Married with 1 son who is severely autistic
Best advice you could give someone thinking of a teaching career: Be conscious of the difference you can make each day to the lives of those children that walk into your classroom. You have to make it enjoyable and appreciate their idiosyncrasies and the fun you can have with 30 developing personalities in the one room for a whole year.

Teaching never crossed my mind until a friend started ‘subbing’ in a school not far from the one I’ve been teaching in for the past 27 years. I left my CV into a few primary and secondary schools around the city and basically never looked back. In those days you could teach with a non teaching degree, which I did for almost a year in St Luke’s PS Twinbrook. I was lucky to work with a staff who were not only fantastic professionals, but supportive and generous with their time. I completed a PGCE in St Andrews ,Glasgow, and after initially working as a substitute teacher for 6 months in SJB, I was made permanent. I had initially planned to stay a few years and try for something closer to home as I commute 90 miles round journey from Derry every day. 
 The school however is similar to Hotel California, “ you can check out any time you like but you can never leave”. Many of the staff in SJB are not only work colleagues, but also close friends even those who have retired. I always had aspirations of becoming a principal, and after successfully completing my PQH, I became Vice Principal of SJB in 2010 following our amalgamation. At this time our son was diagnosed with autism and I believed I couldn’t fulfil my obligations as a VP and have the time/energy needed to focus on our son’s development. After a spell I resigned my VP post. I have co-ordinated various subjects over the years and currently hold the numeracy post along with my duties as a senior manager within the school. Like many schools, we have gone through various reincarnations , but the motivation and enjoyment hasn’t diminished and I have no desire to move from SJB. After all I couldn’t even if I tried.

Blackboard Awards 2023