LARNE Grammar School principal John Wilson has announced that he is stepping down this summer after 11 years in the role.
Mr Wilson, who took over the helm at Larne Grammar in 2001 after a stint as headteacher at Newry High School, will hand over the reins at the start of the new term to Jonathan Wylie, current vice-principal at Grosvenor Grammar School.
And Mr Wilson has spoken of his “many fond memories” of his time at the school and the strong bonds he has fostered with pupils, parents and staff.
“Larne Grammar was a good, successful school when I arrived and I like to think that I have consolidated that,” he said.
“We have maintained the excellent standards the school is renowned for, continued to develop the facilities, and we are now more than ever conscious of the pastoral needs of pupils and I acknowledge the work of the staff in developing that ethos.
“Most importantly, parents and pupils have been extremely satisfied with education on offer at Larne Grammar, which makes me very proud.”
Mr Wilson was educated at Royal School Armagh, before going on to Queen’s University and then taking up his first teaching post at Foyle and Londonderry College in 1972. Over the years he has taught at Regent House, Campbell College, Lurgan College, and was vice-principal at Royal School Dungannon before taking up the post as principal at Newry.
Now living in Larne, the 60-year-old decided the time was right to step down and he is now looking forward to his retirement.
“I felt it was time to move on and allow myself the opportunity to reflect on my career and do the things I have never had the time to do.
“The role of a principal is a very time-consuming job; you often work 60 hours a week, sometimes seven days a week.
“I recently became a grandfather and so am excited about the prospect of spending more time with my family. I have five children, three of whom live across the water, and I have other relatives in America, so I am hoping to do a bit of travelling.
“I have no plans to move away from Larne though, so while I will no longer be part of school life, I will remain part of the local community.
“I have many fond memories of my time at Larne Grammar; too many to name in fact. One thing I will always remember is the pupils’ ability to continually surprise me, both academically and in their extra-curricular activities.
“I will officially step down at the end of August, and Mr Wylie will take up his new post at the start of September, but the hand-over process is already under way.
“I am delighted to pass on the torch to Mr Wylie, who comes with a very high reputation. I wish him every success and hope he has many happy years at Larne Grammar School,” Mr Wilson concluded.
Mr Wylie joined Grosvenor 15 years ago as a history teacher before becoming vice-principal in 2008. A former pupil of Belfast High School, he studied history at Queen’s University before going on to complete his PGCE at Strathclyde University.
The 37-year-old lives in Monkstown with his wife Kim and their two young children.
And he told the Times that he has had strong connections to Larne for the past 20 years, as his wife is originally from the town and taught at Moyle Primary School from 1997-2005.
Mr Wylie said: “There was much about Larne Grammar that attracted me and I am looking forward to taking up my new position. My immediate priority for the start of the new term is to get to know the staff, pupils and parents.
“Larne Grammar is a good school with a proud history and I am excited about becoming a part of that and building on it in years to come,” Mr Wylie concluded.