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‘Young people still need the same things’: Davie Hay reflects on 40 years teaching at Nairn Academy

Davie Hay celebrates 40 years with Nairn Academy
Nairn Academy headteacher Julie Macdonald presents Davie Hay with gifts following 40 years' service with Nairn Academy.

Nairn Academy is celebrating an incredible milestone as teacher Davie Hay marks 40 years with the school.

Mr Hay started with Nairn Academy in 1981, fresh out of university. In the 40 years that followed, he held a variety of roles within the school and watched pupils grow up and return as parents themselves.

He grew up in Huntly, and says teaching appealed to him from a young age. “I’ve got an interest in young people and want to help them be all they can be and get the best for themselves,” he says.

Nairn was a new school when Mr Hay arrived as a chemistry and physics teacher. “Like any other job, you learn your trade out there doing the job for real,” he says.

Going full circle

Mr Hay learned quickly though, and enjoyed a varied career, becoming a principal teacher for guidance.

“I liked to help them to solve difficulties by being a listening ear and offering a point in the right direction,” he says, “I felt privileged to be in a position to help many families over the years. Some of those pupils have come back to school now as parents, and I’m teaching their youngsters too. There’s something quite satisfying about that.”

Mr Hay followed his stint in guidance with a role as faculty principal teacher for home economics and technical studies.

A return to science teaching brought him “full circle”.

Change is a constant

Though Mr Hay officially retired four years ago, he still works part-time as a supply teacher. Does he find it hard to let go of teaching?

“The intention was to change my work/life balance and have more time to myself, but I still fundamentally enjoy contact with youngsters and I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” he says.

“The difference now is I can leave it behind at the end of the day instead of taking work home, either physically or in my head. I will start to wind down soon and eventually hang up my blackboard duster, or whatever the modern equivalent is!”

Davie Hay 40 years at Nairn Academy
Davie Hay has taught at Nairn Academy for his entire 40 year career and seen many changes in that time. Picture by SANDY McCOOK

Education is a changed landscape to what it was four decades ago, but Mr Hay sees many positives in the years that have passed. “There’s improvement in a lot of areas, especially in being able to access information through technology,” he says.

“Education has changed significantly over the years and it will continue to change in the years to come. That’s just the nature of it.”

Young people – on the other hand – still need the same things. “Youngsters now live in a very different world,” says Mr Hay. “They tend to be more streetwise and tech-savvy, and they have access to more than we ever had.

“However they’re largely the same. They still need support from teachers, guidance and management staff. The job is fundamentally still about bairns learning to become effective contributors to society and good citizens as they move into adulthood.”

A proud day

Mr Hay has undoubtedly played a significant role in helping countless young people to become just that. Yesterday – precisely 40 years since he first set foot in Nairn Academy – head teacher Julie Macdonald presented him with gifts to thank him for his service.

These included a 40 balloon, ruby wedding sash and badge, as well as the school daily logbook from 1981-2 for a special trip down memory lane.

Davie Hay 40 years Nairn Academy
Davie Hay on the 40th anniversary of his first day at Nairn Academy.

“Davie’s support of pupils and staff has been very much appreciated over the years,” says Julie. “Dedicating 40 years to Nairn Academy is a significant achievement which the Nairn Academy community wanted to mark and send our thanks and congratulations.”

Mr Hay said the school was determined to make the day memorable for him, and they succeeded. “It’s a significant achievement and I feel proud to have done that stint in one place and lived in the same community for all that time too,” he says.

When he eventually does retire, Mr Hay says he’ll spend more time in his garden and walking with his family and dog – but he won’t be letting go of that blackboard duster just yet.

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