BY Daniel Harkins | July 3 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


St Mary’s bids fond farewell to headteacher

Pupils and staff at St Mary’s Primary School in Hamilton held back tears as they said goodbye to their headteacher with a medley of Rod Stewart songs and a special thanksgiving Mass.

Kathleen Stewart was joined by pupils, relatives and Bishop Emeritus Joseph Devine at the Mass in St Mary’s Church in Hamilton, which followed on from a surprise leaving party in the school the previous week.

Mrs Stewart has been a teacher at St Mary’s for 21 years—10 of them as headteacher—and all of them as a Rod Stewart fan. As she arrived in the school hall for a ‘talent show,’ she was greeted instead with a surprise parting gift from the pupils and friends of the school, with the children telling her what she meant to them and singing a number of Rod Stewart hits, with the words changed to mark the goodbye celebration.

“You have always put us first but today we get the chance to make you feel special,” one pupil said. As some started crying, the children told Mrs Stewart what she meant to them. “She has beautiful hair and my favourite thing is she believes in me,” one said.

A number of video messages were sent to the school, including from Bernard Mournian, a Motherwell seminarian and former pupil at St Mary’s. Speaking from Rome, he remembered hearing Pope Francis say teaching involved seeing Christ in pupils.

“The day I heard this message I felt in a certain sense Pope Francis was addressing our community in Hamilton,” he said, and thanked the teacher for her ‘wonderful service.’

After a message of thanks sent from Mozambique from White Father Hugh Seenan for the school’s charity work, the pupils and teachers closed the celebrations by singing My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music, with the lyrics changed to Mrs Stewart’s preferences including nice handwriting and, for the staff, a ‘wee roll and sausage on somebody’s birthday.’

Mrs Stewart, 59, began teaching in 1976 at St Serf’s Primary School in Airdrie and started at St Mary’s in 1994.

“I’ve loved this school since the moment I came to it,” she said, holding back tears. “The children are wonderful. I know them all well and know their abilities and if there is anything wrong with them and if there is any change in them. I work to make sure they can reach their own potential.”

The retiring teacher said she may go on to do some voluntary work as well as looking after her grandchildren, and, looking back on her career, she had nothing but positives to say about Catholic education.





—This story ran in full in the July 3 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.


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