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I am sure you have often heard the term ‘national treasure’ being used in reference to those people who are famous or have celebrity status. He may not be known nationally, however he can certainly be referred to as a ‘Haddington treasure’. Brian Smith is well known to thousands of present and former pupils, present and former parents/carers, grandparents and many people in the Haddington community. I am aware that many of our parent community were taught by Mr. Smith or have memories of him as a Deputy Head Teacher. It may be that some of our younger grandparent community may have been taught by Mr. Smith. Regardless of age or status, Brian Smith is well known within the Haddington community, and well-loved too!!
Following twenty-nine years of unbroken service and commitment to formerly Kings Meadow Primary School, presently Haddington Primary School and the wider Haddington community, Brian Smith is retiring and leaves us tomorrow, Friday 8th April 2022.
I write this communication from a professional and personal perspective.
Brian hails from the west coast, his early years growing up in East Kilbride and Glasgow. He attended St. Kenneth’s RC Primary School followed by St. Bride’s RC High School, both East Kilbride. Brian’s father was a mathematics teacher who was promoted to the position of Head Teacher at St. Patrick’s RC High School, Coatbridge. Brian has fond memories of his father’s role as a Labour Party councillor in East Kilbride, assisting him delivering Labour Party leaflets. Brian’s father achieved the prestigious honour of becoming Provost of East Kilbride. This provided one great privilege for Brian as he and his friends were often delivered to the local swimming baths in the provost’s Daimler car.
Upon leaving school, Brian was unsure which direction his future career would take. He undertook various temporary employment in Agnew’s Stores, The Windjammer Public House and Glasgow City Parks Department. The school has been fortunate to benefit from this legacy, as Brian’s love of flora and horticulture has been evident in the garden areas of the school, pupils presently continue to benefit from Brian’s gardening guidance and experience.
Brian eventually enrolled on a building degree course at the Glasgow College of Building and Printing but after a year decided that this was not the direction he wanted to take.
Brian then attended Jordanhill College, Glasgow, to undertake a degree course in Youth and Community Work. The community part of this degree course has become significant as Brian acknowledges, understands and values the concept of ‘the community’, and many in the Haddington community have benefited from Brian’s community contributions.
After graduating from Jordanhill College, Brian worked in two different residential schools over a five year period. It was during this time that Brian identified his interest and skills would be best suited to primary school education. Brian undertook a one year post graduate course at Moray House College of Education/Edinburgh University and qualified as a primary school teacher.
So, on 18th August 1993, Brian began his ‘Haddington odyssey’, securing a teaching position at Kings Meadow Primary School. Twenty-nine years later, Brian continues to serve the Haddington community with the same level of commitment, passion and energy. His first memory of Haddington was meeting Mr. Donald McGillvary (Head Teacher) to view the school, only to be greeted by rubble following a fire that decimated the school building.
Following a successful eight year period of being a class teacher, Brian was promoted to the post of Senior Teacher in 2001, the newly created Principal Teacher post in 2004 and to his present position of Deputy Head Teacher in 2006.
I have really enjoyed Brian sharing some memorable and happy stories of his time in Haddington. Leaving his school diary on the roof of his car, to be found by a member of the public and the row he received from Mr. McGillvary. His coastguard outfit worn on a visit to the Dunbar Coastguard base and submerged in Dunbar harbour, his endless stories of visits to Benmore Camp, Dunoon, and his fond memories of many former and present pupils.
In my professional opinion, Brian Smith is in every way a model professional. How do you replace twenty-nine years of local knowledge, expertise and commitment to the community? An impossible task!
I admire Brian’s values; his dignified respect for humanity, fairness, compassion, awareness, focus, integrity, perseverance, sense of service and sensitivity to social justice.
I know that everyone in our community regards him with the greatest respect.
When merging Kings Meadow Primary School and Haddington Infants’ School to become Haddington Primary School, Brian was a key part of formulating our new values of Happy (H), Positive (P) and Successful (S). His priority has always been to create the best culture and ethos to support learning and teaching. Additionally, with regard to commitment, who would drive to Haddington from Peebles, in all conditions, for sixteen years?
However, it is the most basic of values that has endeared Brian to all whose lives he has influenced; kindness, friendship, helpful, supportive, humorous, and generous and giving of his time.
I referred at the beginning of this communication that I would also comment from a personal perspective. Brian and I share the same birth year, therefore we are the same age and fondly remember the key decades of ‘growing up’ in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Our very keen interest in sport, mainly football, and music, has presented the opportunity for many great conversations. We are both ‘west coasters’ hailing from Glasgow, the only contention is our supporting two football teams of very different colours.
From a personal level I will miss Brian very much; the laughs, his empathy, his support and friendship.
There are a few quotes and statements that can be associated with Brian:
‘Many people walk in and out of your life, only true friends leave a footprint’.
‘Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer’.
Finally………………..’Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing you will be successful’. Brian has brought us all happiness and it is clear that Brian has loved his vocation and this has ensured Brian has led and experienced much success.
The present staff team enjoyed a retirement afternoon tea last Friday, 1st April 2022. My thanks to Lynn Paton and Karen McGinlay for their excellent organisation and to Sophie Askew (Music Specialist) for performing and providing lovely harp music. My sincere thanks to the full staff team for their contributions ensuring a happy and positive ethos. A dinner will be convened during the summer term to enable some of Brian’s former colleagues to celebrate Brian’s retirement.
To conclude, I am sure you will join me in offering a most sincere thank you to Brian Smith for his outstanding contribution to the school and the local community, and to wish Brian every happiness and good health as he embarks on a new and exciting episode of his life.
Staff absences related to COVID remain at a significant level. These absences relate to both teaching and support staff. The level of absence and the lack of supply staff have affected our capacity to cover these staff absences internally, and regrettably, it has concluded in several classes reverting to remote learning.
I understand the inconvenience created by reverting to remote learning. However, I offer the most sincere thank you to the parents/carers in those classes. The support, understanding and patience of parents/carers in the affected classes has been outstanding. Thank you once again.
I am aware that the Parent/Carer consultations are now active and I hope that these meetings are effective with regard to updating you on your child’s progress and achievement.
I received several requests for samples of pupils’ work to be viewed at home in preparation for Parent/Carer Consultations. I fully understand this request as it is now two years since parents/carers were in school for consultations.
I afforded this request significant consideration. However, I am hopeful that during the Summer Term we may be granted approval to have parents/carers back in school. In the event of having parents/carers back in school, I believe it would be very helpful to convene and return to open mornings where parents/carers can visit their child’s class base, view their child’s work and discuss the work with their child.
I am one of the head teacher representatives on East Lothian Council’s Education Recovery Group. Our next meeting is this coming Thursday, 7th April, and I am hopeful that we will receive advice regarding further relaxations of restrictions. I will keep you updated.
Curriculum for Excellence – Responsible Citizens
You may be aware that Curriculum for Excellence is Scotland’s National Curriculum. Within this National Curriculum we encourage the children to develop FOUR CAPACITIES as follows:
· Successful Learners
· Responsible Citizens
· Effective Contributors
· Confident Individuals
From time to time I am approached by children requesting to organise a bake sale. These requests are given serious consideration and some are approved.
One of our pupils from P.6, Abbie Diggory, has been touched by someone close suffering from cancer. She requested holding a bake sale to raise money for Cancer Research.
Abbie, with the assistance of some P.6 peers, organised the bake sale in the Upper Campus. Abbie’s bake sale raised £439.07 for Cancer Research. Abbie and her assistants have proved to be; Responsible Citizens, Effective Contributors and Confident Individuals.
Well done Abbie!!
I remind you that school closes for the Easter Holiday this Friday, 8th April at the normal school day time. School resumes for the Summer Term on Monday 25th April 2022. Please remember that we return to non-staggered times on return. I will remind you of times before we close this Friday.
Finally, I offer my sincere thanks to everyone in the school community for their positivity, enthusiasm, help and support.
Best wishes, Willie
The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) is a unique tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 which invites people from across the United Kingdom to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee”.
We were delighted to be chosen as one of East Lothian schools to have a tree planted. Our tree was unveiled today by our house captains and representative from the Lieutenancy office in the joint campus playground.
We have had a lovely plaque made by the CDT Department at Preston Lodge High School so that we can remember this special occasion in years to come – keep your eye out for it in our playground J