THE challenges of a new school year await pupils and staff at schools across the country - but at St Pius X College in Magherafelt it’s the challenge of a new school entirely that await incoming Principal Jackie Bartley.
And after taking up the post officially on September 1, it’s the challenges ahead at St Pius X that most excite the enthusiastic new head at the school:
“This is going to be a fantastic challenge for me,” she told the MAIL this week. “Already I’ve been made to feel very welcome with some parents, governors and people from Magherafelt calling in to give me their best wishes. I already feel very much at home.”
Originally from Enniskillen, Jackie now lives in Eglinton and takes over as Principal after moving on from a position at St Cecilia’s College in Derry where she spent 18 years.
She previously served as Head of Business and ICT and for the past five years has been Vice Principal in charge of Key Stage Four and Post 16 pupils.
So what can the 950 odd pupils at St Pius X expect from their new Principal? Enthusiasm and a passion for the success of all pupils was the overriding message.
“It’s vital that as a school we build on the successes of previous years,” she said. “We have a fantastic new build school here which is a joy to work in and I want success for every child that comes through the doors of this school.
“We have a broad and balanced curriculum in place, excellent teachers and we are giving every opportunity within our power to pupils to go on in the future and be who they want to be, and do what they want to do.
“As a school we will be striving to build self esteem and confidence among our students and if they work hard here every child can have the brightest of futures.
“Each child is different and we will be striving to ensure each child reaches the best level of academic success possible and that they have the greatest chance of making a successful life once they pass through the doors again and head out into the world.”
Married to Paul, and with two children of her own - Lucy (P7) and Adam (P4) - Jackie is well versed in what parents expect from the school their children attend.
“Respect and mutual understanding will be key to producing well rounded adults,” she continued.
“That’s why I’ll be striving to continue the strong links St Pius X has built with the community in previous years, and the strong links that have been fostered with our neighbouring schools in Magherafelt.
“We already have links with Rainey Endowed, St Mary’s, Sperrin College and Magherafelt High School, as well as Kilronan School, and those links will still be key in the future.
“Already in my first couple of weeks here I’ve seen the uniforms from other schools in the town walking around the corridors of St Pius X and that’s going to be a vital part of our collective way forward as a town and a community.
“It has been a hectic couple of weeks,” she admitted. “I’ve been trying to get to know the staff here and the pupils. The vibrant nature of the school matches the vibrant nature of the Magherafelt community - now I want the parents of pupils here and the community in general to see that they have a vibrant school.
“I’ll be doing as much as I can along with my staff to make sure the profile of St Pius is raised as highly as possible, make sure all the pupils behave with dignity and respect and achieve their own personal goals, and that Magherafelt has a school to be proud of. I’m very excited about the challenge ahead.”