The principal of St Mary’s College says she’s overwhelmed at being inducted into a prestigious international ‘Excellence Hall of Fame.’
Marie Lindsay, however, said she only accepted the global Business Excellence Institute accolade on behalf of all the outsanding staff at the popular Derry school.
Mrs Lindsay was speaking during a surprise reception staged by staff on the final day of the school term last Friday, to celebrate Mrs. Lindsay’s stunning achievement.
The St. Mary’s principal recently travelled to Dublin for the induction ceremony hosted by the international Business Excellence (BEX) Institute during a glittering gala dinner ceremony at the plush Shelbourne Hotel.
Mrs Lindsay was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Fellows of the Business Excellence Institute in recognition of her dedication to education; her pursuit of excellence and her “sustained, oustanding contribution to her community.”
She was one of only three recipients from across the world to be added to the 2018 Hall of Fame, which was established in 2016 to recognise and celebrate people who have made a significant contributions to the organisations in which they have worked or to society at large.
She was joined at the inauguration ceremony by fellow inductees, Julia Chang Bloch, the first Asian American to become a U.S. Ambassador and the founder of the US-China Education Trust and Sri Lankan tech entrepreneur, Raomal Perera.
Paying tribute to Marie, the BEX Institute stated: “Under Marie’s guidance, St. Mary’s has become one of the most highly recognised entities in the European business excellence community.”
During the event on Friday, tributes were paid to the immense contribution Mrs Lindsay has made to the school, city, country and beyond. St. Mary’s vice-principal, Stephen Keown, said: “Across Northern Ireland Marie would be recognised as one of the strongest leaders in education. We had a local inspection recently and whenever you look at where this school currently sits, it’s a reflection of her leadership so it’s an accolade fully deserved.
“She has great vision; a great sense of education, of people and a huge passion for Derry and a huge passion for women in roles of leadership. She’s a very strong moral and social agenda and very strong vision.”
Gay Durkan, chair of the Board of Governors at St Mary’s College, said at the ceremony in Dublin that Marie had accepted the award “on behalf of the wonderful staff and the wonderful young people she has worked with over the years.”
Gay Durkan said: “I am delighted for her and for the staff. It is wonderful and I don’t know anyone who surpasses her energy and enthusiasm. She is not afraid to take risks and she has great belief in her staff and in the girls and enables them to have belief in themselves.”
Mrs Lindsay , whose husband Colly and children had been in on the surprise and were in attendance at the event, told those gathered: “What I said at the Shelbourne Hotel is what I mean: I’m a very ordinary person, I came from a very ordinary background. I got the chance of education and it changed my life and I believe in education and I believe it can change young people’s lives. You can only do it if you have the incredible team of people like we have at St Mary’s. This award is not my award, it’s not my excellence, it’s all of ours.”
She told staff that the recent positive inspection report and the award itself were down to “your sweat, your hard work, your commitment, your belief in those young people.”
She added: “My career, you look at this and you might think it was all so rosy. I started off with a science degree, no teaching qualification. I did a bit of subbing, did my PGCE at St. Mary’s, came back I still had no job. I did another bit of subbing, got a job at St. Peter’s and after a year I was made redundant and I have still got my redundancy letter. I applied five times to be Head of Year at St. Mary’s and got a ‘Dear Marie’ letter every time.
“So, all of you, with the right people around you and the right support, you can do wonderful things. You don’t have to be principal; you don’t have to be in senior leadership, but what you do, day in and day out, how you speak to the children - and that’s from the girls at reception, to our cleaners, lunch-time supervisors as well as the teachers in the classroom - the influence you have on them is what makes St. Mary’s great.”