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Olive Duffy

St. Ita’s Primary School

Subject: Variety of curricular areas.

Your place of birth: Belfast.

Where You Live: South Belfast.

First Job: St. Joseph’s Primary School.

What it taught me: That teaching was the correct path for me.

Family/status: Married.

Best advice anyone ever gave you: When I first began teaching I had a great role model in my first Principal Mr Patsy Fitsimons and a number of more experienced colleagues who were patient and kind enough to pass on pearls of wisdom.

Mr Fitzimons always said, “Remember when parents drop off their child in the morning they are entrusting the most important person in their life to your care to be loved, nurtured and cherished.”

A senior teacher who I worked alongside also told me, “Be original! Children and parents are not looking for carbon copies; it’s the little different and exciting ways that each teacher imparts knowledge that make him or her special and memorable.”

Finally, my parents taught me never to do anything by half because if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

Best advice you could give someone thinking of a teaching career: As an educator it is vital that you are an example and a positive role model for the children in your care. Every child is a unique and wonderful individual so always endeavour to celebrate this by promoting their positive qualities and enhancing their self-esteem because children who feel valued are open to learning. Have a vision for each pupil to succeed, inspire them and give them the tools to do so. Each child given direct and clear expectations will try their best to achieve, as will parents, who basically want to know what they can do to optimise their child’s learning.

Lastly, we all have two ears and one mouth, so listen first and talk later. This works whether dealing with an upset child in the playground, a parent worried about their child’s progress or a stressed colleague looking for advice and support.

Being the youngest of six children, says Olive, she learned to project her voice from an early age. “My parents were both very hardworking. My mother was a teacher herself, the ultimate professional and my dad built a large, successful business.” Olive grew up and began her education in Holywood before transferring to St. Dominic’s.

She  graduated with Honours from St. Mary’s Training College and got a full time job in St. Joseph’s Primary School, Carryduff where she spent a very happy 17 years. “One year after completing my degree I married Jonathan and we have been blessed with three wonderful children. After Siobhan my first child was born I completed a Masters degree at Q.U.B. whilst still working full time. Seven years ago I transferred to the newly constructed St. Ita’s primary school where I was awarded the position of Vice Principal shortly after my mother’s death.

“However my love for the children was paramount and I decided after a few years to return to the classroom and dedicate my time and energy to my pupils.

“My formative years under Mr Fitzsimons and teaching alongside supportive, professional and inspiring colleagues have helped me to develop an individual and creative approach to teaching with many a humorous moment shared.”

Over the past two decades Olive says she has been privileged to work with talented, motivated children and fantastic parents, all working as a team to enhance the potential of each and every child.

“My ultimate hope is that I will be remembered with fondness and as an inspiration to those I have met in the course of my career,” she adds.