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STAR Award Winner St Mary's University College

07-01-2019

GTCNI STAR Award Winners  
St Mary's University College
 

Three Minute Interview

We begin 2019 with congratulations to both Sophie Millar and Ryan McCusker winners of the GTCNI STAR Award as Top Performing Students. Presentations were part of St Mary's annual Graduation Award Dinner in December 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above (L-R) Prof Tony Finn, Principal St Marys, Sophie Millar with GTCNI CEO, Sam Gallaher 

 

Sophie begins our 2019 Three Minute Interview and gives us her perspective as a prize winner of the STAR Award and graduating student from St Mary's University. 

1. As a GTCNI STAR award winner – How might you use your prize?
I actually met my fiancé at University, who proposed to me at the end of my final year, so the prize will definitely be useful for our upcoming wedding! 

2. Who or what has been your biggest influence or inspiration?
My own RE teachers for sure. They showed me what it meant to teach in an engaging way, but also to meet all needs of students and build up good relationships. Also, my dad, he really showed me what it meant to be hardworking and determined.  

3. After graduation have you any career plans lined up?
I will be staying in Northern Ireland and be subbing in schools. This will hopefully build up a good network of schools.  

4. What challenges do you face entering the teaching profession?
Obtaining permanent, full-time employment and getting used to working as a newly qualified teacher with a full time-table and class responsibilities. 

5. What (teaching level) and subjects do you plan to teach?
I plan to teach post-primary Religious Studies, so students between the ages of 11-18 years old. I can also teach Geography and Health and Social Care. 

6. Do you feel the GTCNI STAR Award is a valuable incentive for student during their teacher training?
It is a wonderful incentive for students during their years at university. It allows them to see their hard work will be recognised. Teacher-training is very different from other university courses, it is hard and balancing placements and lectures can be difficult. The award helps to motivate students to reach their full potential.   

7. What support/service would you expect to get from GTCNI, your professional regulatory body?
The service already provides excellent support for teachers. Perhaps more support helping NQT’s know more about life after university and entering the teaching profession. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above (L-R) Ryan McCusker with GTCNI CEO, Sam Gallaher

 

Ryan shares his views below for our Three Minute Interview  

1. As a GTCNI STAR award winner – How might you use your prize?
I hope to put the prize money towards financing my Master’s (M.Sc.) Degree, which I would like to complete within the next few years. 

2. Who or what has been your biggest influence or inspiration?
I have been very fortunate to have been influenced and inspired by many terrific people over the years. My family, of course, have always supported me throughout my educational journey and encouraged me fervently to reach my full potential. My mother, in particular, has been instrumental in providing encouragement and support right from pre-school through to third-level education. I was lucky to have had many fantastic teachers throughout my school-days, the earliest and perhaps most memorable being my P1 teacher, Mrs Pauline Lappin. Pauline epitomised what a great teacher should be – kind, knowledgeable, caring, and with a heart big enough to love even the most difficult of children. In later years, I was privileged to have been taught by Mr Mel McMahon, who was a great source of inspiration during my A’ Level studies. Mel, like Pauline, exemplified the very best qualities of a truly great teacher. Mel’s influence helped me to make that tough decision as to what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Throughout my time at St Mary’s I was fortunate to have been mentored by many truly inspirational lecturers, without whom, I would not have received this award. I also owe a great deal of thanks to my excellent host teachers, who always acted as a great source of inspiration - particularly Mr Damien Connolly. Damien, who was my last ever host teacher, was my first ever male host teacher. This was an invaluable experience in my final year at St Mary’s, as it allowed me to see how important male teachers are in primary schools, and just how much of a difference we can make – every single day.

3. After graduation have you any career plans lined up?
I am currently teaching Primary Six, full-time, in Our Lady’s Primary School, Tullysaran (Armagh). The last few months spent in Our Lady’s have been amongst the most enjoyable and rewarding of my life, and I hope to continue to grow there in both a professional and personal capacity. As mentioned earlier, I hope to complete a Master’s Degree in the near future also and take my career to the next level. 

4. What challenges do you face entering the teaching profession?
As a young man beginning a career in teaching, the profession does not come without its challenges; the most obvious of which is the challenge of finding permanent employment. However, aside from this, the challenges that I face are similar to those faced by every teacher, every day. How do I cater to the diverse needs of my students effectively? How do I keep on top of my marking? How can I take these children from where they are to where they need to be? The list continues. However, none of these challenges are insurmountable, though they may well appear that way at first.

5. What (teaching level) and subjects do you plan to teach?
I intend to teach within the Primary sector for the rest of my career. I particularly enjoy teaching KS2 – especially Primary Six. P6 is an exciting year and I enjoy working with that age group – it’s also a very structured year, which I like about it.

6. Do you feel the GTCNI STAR Award is a valuable incentive for student during their teacher training?
Yes, I do. The years spent as a student teacher are challenging ones, with a lot of pressure often keenly felt. It is reassuring to know that the hard work put into attaining your teaching degree does not go unnoticed.

7. What support/service would you expect to get from GTCNI, your professional regulatory body?
I would expect support with new policies in an ever-evolving work place as well as professional advice on any matters that might arise throughout my career.

Good Luck for the future!

We'll be following up with our STAR Award winning graduates next year. Look out for further update.

 

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