Article: Back to school – the wondrous teacher

Newry Cathedral News

All the shop windows are full of back-to-school products and it seems that every time we turn on our radio, there is another discussion about uniforms and the cost of sending children back to school, kitted out in crests and school colours. Few reports focus on the return of school staff so I would like to redress that balance. After 35 years of the first day of school, I think I can fully appreciate the mixed emotions faced by many of the teachers and support staff in the last week. 

For those of us who taught exam classes there’s the worry that our students got into their chosen further or higher education course. For others, it is how we manage resources and expectations or overcoming the learning difficulties of a particular pupil. However, looking at the ‘Big Picture’, going back to school is like returning to our other family, the ones entrusted to our care, the ones that will confide in us and even occasionally call us ‘ mammy’ or ‘daddy’. 

There is always a certain trepidation of entering the unknown of what might happen this year. In the space of an academic year, I have  had the sadness of losing colleagues, parents and pupils but also experienced the joy of the pupil exceeding all expectations, the announcement of a new school build and a teacher becoming pregnant after a long wait. Each year brings a measure of celebration and despair.  

So, whatever lies ahead for you as a member of staff this year, please remember that you are so much more than a cog in a wheel of a large machine. You are the significant other to pupils and fellow staff  that you in encounter – the wondrous teacher, the social worker, the nurse, the counsellor. Bravely step forward and embrace the challenge.  

Every blessing for you and your students in the year ahead. 


As teachers, support staff and students embark on the first day of school, we ask that You be ever-present. Please soothe the first day jitters that exist and remind them that there is so much good to be unlocked this year. Help technology and emotions to run smoothly and help these first impressions to go well.  

We pray for respect towards the teachers and support staff from the students and the cultivation of kindness from every person present. More than ever, teachers need support and encouragement. They give so much of themselves every single day to not only educate but to leave an impression on their students.  

Praying for and supporting teachers you know can make a difference in their lives and help them not feel so alone in the day-to-day journey. Make it a point to ask specifically how you can lift the spirits of your teacher friends and offer words of encouragement to your child’s teacher as well. They make the world a better place, helping the next generation grow up well.  

May these first days at school be abundantly blessed and may this school year be one marked with Your favour. We thank You, God, in advance. In Jesus Name,