The principal of Edenderry Primary School in Portadown is retiring from his role after twenty years in the post.
Stephen Doyle is passing on the mantle after a long career which began as a class teacher in Hart Memorial Primary School in 1988 and also includes a ten-year spell as Principal of Poyntzpass Primary School.
Stephen is well known in the local community for his active role in the promotion of sport within the local and regional primary schools.
As well as coaching mini-rugby in the primary schools in which he has served, he has acted as the Ulster Primary Schools Committee/Ulster Rugby Convenor for over a decade from 2005, organising the Co Armagh primary schools festivals which replaced the Gilpin Cup event.
Reflecting on his career in education, Stephen thanked and acknowledged the staff of Edenderry Primary School and Poyntzpass Primary School for the fantastic work undertaken with generations of pupils and their friendship over the years.
He began his career as Principal of Poyntzpass Primary School in 1994. During his decade in this community he presided over a 50% growth in the enrolment of the rural school.
Along with a dedicated staff and a talented, friendly cohort of pupils many memorable events were undertaken including residential visits to Scotland and North Wales, carol services and concerts, sports events including the school Janssen Cup Rugby tournament as well as many cultural activities often in conjunction with neighbouring St Joseph’s Primary School.
Whilst principal of Poyntzpass, he introduced hockey to the school with the girls teams competing very successfully in the Mid Ulster Schools Hockey Association league and cups during his tenure. Latterly he has acted as chairman of the Mid Ulster Schools Hockey Association.
During his time in Edenderry the pupils and staff enjoyed many special moments in the life of the school. These included wonderful productions of the Wizard of Oz, Annie and The Sound of Music as well as yearly nativities, public assemblies and Christmas shows.
The pupils enjoyed great success in the sports field both locally and nationally being Northern Ireland Champions in Girls Hockey (2014), Boys 5-a-side Football (2013), Girls Football (2023) and Boys Football (2015) as well as being local champions in sports as diverse as swimming and cricket.
A yearly highlight was the school’s involvement in the local Music and Speech/Drama festivals with pupils, parents and staff enjoying the school’s participation in the widely respected Portadown Festival. Very often the performance of the school choirs, choral speaking groups and soloists was rewarded with a cup returned to Edenderry.
However, Mr Doyle stated that the day to day thoughtfulness and kindness of all the pupils to each other and the adults in the school is a memory that will linger long with him.
“I feel very privileged to have been principal of a well renowned primary school blessed with talented pupils and staff for two decades”, he said.
“I was particularly struck with the school’s illustrious history during our 125th anniversary celebrations in 2014 learning about and meeting as many different past pupils who have enjoyed great success in so many fields of life.”
From his earliest days as a young teacher at Hart Memorial he enjoyed participating in residential visits to venues across the British Isles with groups of Primary Six and Seven pupils.
These ventures to London, North Wales, Yorkshire, Scotland and Dublin frequently resulted in life long memoirs which he often shares with former pupils he now meets as adults.
Looking back on his career he felt that one of the great privileges of the job was the opportunity to work with fellow principals for the betterment of the local educational community.
He said: ““I have thoroughly enjoyed being a member of the Craigavon Principals Group and the Armagh Banbridge Craigavon Principals Group over the years. Through these principals groups I have developed great friendships with fellow professionals and was honoured to be chairman for both groups.”