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Tulla principal retires after 38 years in the teaching trade

Pupils and teachers at St Joseph’s Secondary School in Tulla said farewell to outgoing school principal Jim Cooney recently as he embarked on his retirement following 38 years of service to education.
Jim Cooney has been principal of St Joseph’s in Tulla for the past seven years. Jim was the principal at St Joseph’s for the past seven years, prior to that he taught at St Patrick’s Comprehensive in Shannon, where he worked for 30 years.
It was not easy, however, for Jim to leave the school last week. He admits that it was extremely difficult because he had such an attachment to the school, its staff and to the community of Tulla.
“It was a particular challenge to take up the principal’s job in the school where I am from. I warmed to the school immediately. I warmed to staff and the community and I was very lucky in the staff that I got when I came there. They have been great people to work with. They are very committed to the school and dedicated and motivated,” Jim said.
Asked what the highlights have been for him over the years, he explained that there were many things that stand out.
“There were a lot of things we did as a staff, in term of the building up of subject departments, changes to curricular provisions, we built up pastoral care in the school and we have moved ahead in terms of IT. We reckon we would be some distance ahead of the game in terms of IT; for example, we would have had a data projector and computer in every classroom for the past two years and every classroom has the Internet. Most subjects will involve a fair degree of IT and e-learning input in St Joseph’s. We’d be proud of that and I have to say that it took great commitment. We had to move with the times in terms of how to deliver the curriculum and I’m pleased that we have done that,” he outlined.
Another high for the school that touched Jim was the school’s All-Ireland camogie win three years ago and, following disappointment last year in the Munster finals, he is hopeful the Tulla girls will go one better this year.
However, there have been low points. “Our big disappointment would be that we didn’t succeed in providing a new school. It’s badly needed and we haven’t got that despite our best efforts. The parents of Tulla have been hugely supportive and we tried our best but as yet it hasn’t come to fruition. However, the struggle continues and I want to continue to be part of that struggle,” he stressed.
So what lies ahead in retirement for Jim Cooney? “I don’t intend growing Chrysanthemums,” he quipped. “I’ll take some time now to draw breath and then I’ll look around and see what I might get involved in, on a voluntary basis,” he revealed.
The new principal, Margaret O’Brien, took over the stewardship of St Joseph’s on December 1.
Speaking about his successor, Jim acknowledged the wealth of knowledge and leadership the Waterford native will bring to the principal post.
“I wish Margaret every success. She brings with her a lot of experience and a strong background in education as both a principal and administrator and I know the school will be in very good hands. She is from a strong hurling background and while she has a strong Déise allegiance, she will have divided loyalties soon enough,” Jim concluded.

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