It is safe to say that there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Many eloquent words were spoken on the night by people more eloquent than I. Some of his co-workers, including the incoming new principal Mr H, spoke so highly and eloquently about him as did two guests in the congregation. Mary Hanafin, who gives a very amusing speech at Panto-time each year, gave her usual clever repartee. She was preceded by our local politician Eamon Gilmore, who's children also attended the school and who gave an equally clever and amusing speech! Both of course were hilariously upstaged by our Panto Dame who made a special appearance on the night! Oh yes she did!
There really isn't much else I can say about this man that hasn't already been said. However I really feel the need to devote a post to him to express how his passion for education, children and inclusion has had a huge impact on our lives.
Come and meet our illustrious Mr C....
As I've already said he is a man passionate about education, the children (and the special children) and he is also just as passionate about The Blues, BB King and Elvis Presley!
He works hard for the children, the school and the community at large and always has an eye on the bigger picture.
Inclusion for Mr C doesn't just apply to the special children, oh no. It extends to all areas of the school and the greater community including providing support for the local Tidy Towns and Scan Magazine, to name but two examples.
He has adorned the corridor walls with pictures of the children involved in momentous occasions and also with copies of very newsworthy items, usually of historic value, appearing in newspapers.
He is a fun guy who sends you funny jokes by text and whose ringtone on his phone is a jazzy little number.... I always feel the need to dance when I hear that phone going off when I'm in his office! A real ice-breaker I would think, if at a difficult meeting!
He is also likely to send you a text when least expected, telling you where he is and what he's doing....it usually involves climbing a mountain or two and having a well earned glass of red!
Mr C is a very, very VERY busy man who has to organise himself well to get jobs done. However he is so busy that he doesn't have time to access a computer, choosing instead to rely on his good ole faithful manual computer..... his Clipboard!! Seriously! It is a very effective system too, I must say and prompted the lead picture for this post!
As terribly busy as the man is he always makes time for you. His door is always open.
Mr C co-founded the Panto with our Panto Dame 15 years ago, so I guess it's fair to say that he's passionate about Panto too. He has taken an onstage role in every production..... except this one :-(
I have been involved, in one way and another, in most of the Panto productions and it is through Panto that I have gotten to know him.
It was through Panto that I decided that any child of mine would attend this school. This decision was based on two events that resonated strongly with me.
I distinctly remember in the very first panto I did, when WiiBoy wasn't even a twinkle in anyone's eye, being in the
The second event occurs every year, when I see this bearded Principal willing to take to the stage in whatever costume his role dictates. A bear? A Giant? An Ape? A ...Nurse? No problem for the all inclusive Mr C!
Then to see the response he gets from the children in the audience....and the subsequent respect these performances elicit the very next day from the same children, as he passes through the school corridors, is absolutely astounding.
Who wouldn't want their child to attend a school led by such an all embracing Principal?
Soon after that decision was made by me, our beloved WiiBoy made his appearance into our lives!
For obvious reasons my dream of my child attending this school was not to be......initially.
By this time I could consider Mr C to be a friend.
True friends are honest.
I approached him and asked about the possibility of WiiBoy attending the school. At this stage we had just received a diagnosis and we're trying to find the right placement for him.
My friend took one look at my child running (constantly running) and screaming through the corridors at a Panto rehearsal and bluntly, yet respectively, told me no.
An honest friend indeed.
Shortly after that the same honest friend arranged, from his hospital bed, to have WiiBoy assessed by one of the teachers.
That teacher said no too.
And that decision was the one that pushed us into attending the special school and in the process opened many doors for us. For that we are truly grateful.
One of those doors opened was the door to our principal's school within 12 months.
Which only goes to prove that Mr C's door is always open.
Even when it's (seemingly) closed.
It also goes to prove that he always puts the children first.
Especially the special children.
So, thank you Mr C. You have achieved a lot in your illustrious career that you can be proud of and our case is just one more!
You once told me that you tell everyone you meet about our success story. Let me remind you what I said in reply...that I always tell everyone I meet about you and your inclusive school ;-)
You may now hang up your clipboard and go forth into your retirement Mr C, secure in the knowledge that you have served a school and it's wider community well over your 38 years.
We shall miss you hugely in school matters....as your door was always open.
We shall miss you greatly in Panto matters. Who will help us when we run into difficulty and. more importantly.... who will
Not to worry. You have left us in very capable hands ;-)
So, from the Jazzys to the Jazz Man......
Slan go foill a chara,
Eiri an bothar leat
Agus dul na cnoic éasca ar ort!
And don't forget to send us a text now and then ;-)