A wonderful evening was held in The Westenra Arms Hotel on Saturday the 29th of May to mark the retirement of two ladies who worked for many years in Beech Hill College, Monaghan. A large number of present and past Beech Hill College staff attended to wish the retirees well in their life after teaching.
Retired Principal Martha Williamson-Hunter began her teaching career in Beech Hill College in 1981, as a teacher of Irish, Geography and History. Irish has always played a very special part in Martha’s career and she forged a very strong Irish Department with Hugh McCage, Margaret Derwin and Hugh Rooney. She took great pride in instilling a love of the Irish language in the students of Beech Hill College. She encouraged pupils to experience life in the Gaeltacht and to take part in Irish debates and quizzes. It is no great surprise that many of Martha’s students became teachers of Irish!
Alongside her dedication to her subject areas where she developed a reputation as an excellent teacher, was her involvement with the TUI and Co Monaghan VEC. Martha obtained a Special Duties post in the 1985, working alongside Michael Burns as an assistant Year Head. She undertook study in the area of Special Educational Needs and became an Assistant Principal in 2005. In 2008 Martha was promoted to Deputy Principal, where she worked as part of a very successful management team alongside Frank McManus. Martha took the reins of Beech Hill College in 2011 and worked alongside Mr. Patrick Mc Ardle as her Deputy Principal for five years.
Mr. Patrick Mc Ardle spoke of Martha has been a true friend and colleague for many years “her retiring has left a huge void in Beech Hill College. What set Martha apart was not only her attention to detail, but her fundamental belief in doing the right thing, in doing the honest thing and putting Beech Hill College first”
Mr. Mc Ardle spoke about Martha’s ability and capacity to manage a busy school. As Principal, “Martha would spend hours upon hours ensuring everything was done to the highest possible standards. Martha has left Beech Hill College in a very positive place and she deserves great credit and thanks for that. Every time I walk into Beech Hill College I am reminded of Martha. The beautiful landscaped surrounds of the school which are coming into bloom this time of year will be a constant reminder of her hard work and commitment, under her stewardship the facilities in Beech Hill College have improved dramatically and this is part of her legacy to the students. I hope to build on her impressive work in the years to come”
Ms Mary Carroll began her career in Beech Hill College in 1989 but had previously been employed by Co. Monaghan VEC (as it was known then) from 1981 as Adult Education Officer.
Mary taught German and English in Beech Hill College. Deputy Principal and past pupil Siobhán Sheerin was given the pleasure of speaking about Mary on the occasion of her retirement. She recalled that in Mary’s classroom she created an environment where pupils were never criticised but were affirmed, supported, encouraged and cajoled to achieve their potential. Mary began teaching at a time when Monaghan was experiencing great unemployment, considerable poverty and very high emigration. It was a time when parents had little but valued education as the best way to give their children a 'better chance in life'.
Mary Carroll has a wonderful caring side. It is no surprise that she taught so successfully in Learning Support, a job she carried out with sensitivity and care. She is a practical and hands-on person and could quickly see when a pupil had a difficulty. One of her greatest assets was the ability to change her methods of teaching to accommodate the needs of her pupils.
All the staff in Beech Hill College would say that Mary was a very nice colleague to work with it. Mary has a relaxed and caring manner, extremely collegial, supportive and kind especially to new teachers. Her years of holding various positions in the TUI are testament to her passionate belief in the teaching profession.
Mary used her interest in technology to the great benefit of Beech Hill College. She built Beech Hill College’s first website herself and maintained it for many years. In fact Beech hill College was the first school in CMETB to embrace the worldwide web as Mary recognised the potential that was there to actively promote all that was excellent in our school. She was also instrumental in ensuring that the activities and successes of Beech Hill were widely publicised in the local media.
Siobhán Sheerin thanked both Martha and Mary most sincerely for the dedicated and enthusiastic work they have done over the years for the staff and students of Beech Hill College. Principal Patrick Mc Ardle concluded by saying “Our very best wishes go with you both today and we hope and pray that you will have many years of good health and happiness to enjoy your lives after teaching”