Mayor Michaela Boyle with Martina McComish at the reception to mark her retirement.. Included are Kate McComish, Matthew Devine and Jenni McComish. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
The Mayor has hosted a civic reception for a Derry woman who has recently retired after working in special education for 34 years.
Martina McComish retired from her post as principal of Knockavoe School in Strabane just last month, but has vowed to continue to be involved with the special needs sector.
Mrs McComish took up a role at Derry's Foyleview School (now Ardnashee School and College) in 1986, shortly after completing a Masters in Education at Stranmillis University College.
She worked there for 23 years before being appointed principal at Knockavoe, where she led the school for almost 11 years.
"It was a honour to work in special education," she said.
"You build up an incredible bond with pupils and also a great relationship with parents and extended family circles, because they are placing so much trust in you as a person and a teacher by putting a child who may have additional needs into your care.
"I have always loved my job and I never not wanted to be involved in this field.
"I must say that retired on January 12 and I miss it already.
"But I will still be proactive within the field of special needs.
"I'll be sitting on different panels so I'll still be involved and I also hope to do some travelling."
Mrs McComish said whilst special education in Derry and Strabane was excellent, there was not enough provision for pupils when they leave at 19.
"We prepare pupils for life and give them the best education, but a lot more can be done for them post 19.
"I really feel for parents and guardians when their children leave education, because it is such a worrying time and there is limit as to what is available.
"Parents really appreciate what schools do, but there needs to be more funding available to met the many and varied needs of young adults."
She added the work of special education schools would not be possible without support.
"I would like to pay tribute to all the community in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area for all the support they have shown not only to be personally, but to my school.
"I would also like to thank all the parents, teaching and non-teaching staff and all the people who contribute to the school community and make it such a vibrant place where learning can take place."
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