The Sunday Interview with St. Mary’s College teacher, Gavin Molloy

Mr. Gavan Molloy, IT teacher, St. Mary's College, pictured with IT students Emma Doherty and Lauren Harkin this week. DER1914MC036
Mr. Gavan Molloy, IT teacher, St. Mary's College, pictured with IT students Emma Doherty and Lauren Harkin this week. DER1914MC036

As he sits down to relax at home after a day spent teaching, Gavin Molloy’s mobile phone pings.

It’s a text message and it’s out of the blue. The sender of the message is a mother of one of Gavin’s past pupils and after seeing a story about Gavin in The Derry Journal she decided to congratulate him.

“It’s nice getting a message like that - I didn’t think people would have kept my mobile number,” laughed Gavin.

Gavin, who is better known as Mr. Molloy in St. Mary’s College, has been teaching Technology and Design at the school for 20 years.

At the start of April, the head of Technology and Design at St. Mary’s College, Clare Doherty and school principal, Marie Lindsay decided to nominate Gavin for a prestigious award.

The award, which is known as the Pearson Teaching Award for Outstanding Use of Technology, is open to teachers from right across the United Kingdom.

“I was totally shocked when I discovered that my head of department and our principal had decided to nominate me for this award.

“A nomination form was filled out and I made it through to the next round. A few weeks ago two judges from the Pearson awards visited the school to witness how I teach first hand - I’d hope to know if I’ve made it through to the finals sometime next week,” smiled Gavin.

“I’ve been inundated with messages of support and congratulations. If I was to make it to the next round or indeed win the competition, it would be an amazing accolade for the school.”

Gavin was born in 1971 and reared in Kingsfort, just off the Culmore Road .

Gavin’s father, Eamon worked as an estate agent and his mother, Sheila, worked in the tax office.

“I am the second oldest of four children. Growing up, my dad would always have been pottering about in the garage making things and I suppose that’s where I became obsessed with making things with my hands,” he smiled.

Gavin and his family spent many a summer holidaying near Kinnego Bay and Shrove in County Donegal. Gavin said his childhood is full of good memories and because of his father’s involvement with a local sub-aqua club, water sports were common activity for the Molloys.

Gavin attended St. Brigid’s P.S. before going on study at St. Columb’s College but during his time at the College, Technology and Design was not on the curriculum.

“When I was younger I would have gone to all these technology workshops with my uncle and by the time it came to applying for university places I already had completed many projects.

“Since technology wasn’t on the curriculum at this time I had to get special accreditation but everything worked out because I went on to study teaching and technology at St. Mary’s Teaching College in Belfast.”

Gavin moved to Belfast in the late 1980s. It was a time when the Troubles were at their worst and travelling through the Falls in West Belfast to class every morning was completely removed from life back in Kingsfort.

“My brothers and sisters and I were completely sheltered from the Troubles growing up so it was a shock to the system when I moved to Belfast.

“Despite all that, I had a great time living and studying in Belfast.”

In his final year at university, Gavin applied for a teaching position at St. Mary’s College and was successful. It was his first and only job application and after taking up the position in 1994 he has been teaching there ever since.

“I had the interview for the job on an April 1 believe it or not.

“It’s been an amazing 20 years and I know it’s a cliché but no days are ever the same at St. Mary’s College.

“The girls at this school are an absolute pleasure to teach and the Technology and Design department has developed and changed so much over the years.

“One of the biggest changes I have noticed over the years is the number of girls looking at Technology and Design as a potential path to employment.

“One of our past pupils has gone on to work as a welder for ‘Allpipe Engineering’ in Derry. One of the programmes we run here in St. Mary’s is in conjunction with Allpipe so when the girl went for the interview they already knew her and knew she was a hard worker.

“Another one of our girls managed to get a job working for ‘ENI Engineering’. Many of our younger students are seeing there’s a real chance of a job if they work hard and apply themselves so as a Technology and Design teacher, I couldn’t be happier.”

Despite the fact he’s been nominated for quite a prestigious award, Gavin remains modest and says that nothing of what he has achieved over the years would be possible if it wasn’t for the help and support of the school and his colleagues.

“This is an amazing school to teach in and the philosophy of our principal Marie Lindsay is infectious.

“When I look around the Technology and Design lab I find myself teaching in today I am immediately jealous. I never had these facilities when I was at school.

“The Technology and Design Department in this school is perhaps one of the best in the North West. We have a 3D printer and we even have a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine which means the pupils can programme into a computer what they want engraved on to a piece of wood.

“Some of the objects produced here are top class.”

It’s likely Gavin will find out of he has made it to next round of the Pearson Teaching Awards next Friday but even if he doesn’t it will not dissuade him away from his passion for teaching.

“I love getting up and coming to school every morning. I love teaching and when you meet a pupil who has a real passion for the subject it makes your day.

“It’s a waiting game now I suppose but hopefully the judges liked what they saw when they visited the school - fingers crossed anyway,” he smiled.

Gavin is married to Paula (nee Doherty) and they have three children, Aoife, Eadaoin and Cillian.