Few people can boast of officially being described as “visionary” and Mari Wallace is not the boastful type.
But education monitors put it in writing recently in the latest schools inspector report for Isobel Mair.
The head teacher — while confessing to being secretly pleased with the compliment — is quick to accept the praise on behalf of all the school’s teaching staff and health professionals.
“Of course, I’m delighted”, said Mari, “but the school’s success is down to everyone who works with the children here. We’re very lucky to be able to offer a full spectrum of additional support to our pupils.
“In Glasgow, children with complex extra needs have to attend a number of different establishments which cater for different requirements but Isobel Mair is the only school of its kind in East Renfrewshire and now, in this state-of-the-art building, we’re able to bring professionals across the spectrum together in one establishment.”
Yet, working with special needs children was far from Mari’s first choice of career.
“I chose to leave full time work and become a part time supply teacher after having my second child. I was offered a three-day stint at a special school in Glasgow. It’s something when you see a child in a wheelchair about in the community but this school had 89 children. At the end of the first day, I had firmly decided I just couldn’t do that.”
Had she not had an epiphany on her second day, this specialist community of teaching and caring for kids with addtional needs would never have known what they had lost.
Mari added: “On my second day of supply work, it was as if a curtain had lifted. From then on, I didn’t see the disability. I only saw the child.”