Congratulations to John Black who has been nominated in Scots Teacher o the Year sponsored by Scottish Qualifications Authority in the Scots Language Awards 2019. Vote now!
We asked John Black the following questions.
Tell us about yourself
I have been a teacher in Aberdeenshire for over 30 years, 20 as ahead In Fetterangus Primary and more recently at Meethill School in Peterhead. Born and raised in Fraserburgh and a former pupil of Fraserburgh Academy, I graduated with Honours in Geography from Aberdeen University in 1984. I enjoy a variety of sports and am actively involved in a variety of musical activities. I nurtured a very successful instrumental music group in Fetterangus which at one point had pupils from P4 to S5, playing a variety of wind and percussion instruments to audiences across a range of North East venues. Our junior choir in Meethill is also growing its repertoire and reputation with local performances becoming more frequent.
Why are you involved in Scots language?
Scots language and Doric in particular has always been part of my being. Raised in the north-east in a family that enjoyed and celebrated telling tales and embellishing stories (that may or may not have had a hint of truth about them) I would be delighted by tales and anecdotes that were always delivered in a rye manner and always ended in laughter. During my early teaching days at New Pitsligo, I wrote a number of children’s plays which won the drama section of the Buchan Heritage Society annual over a number of consecutive years. My promotion of traditional culture during my time at Fetterangus shifted more to music but we had our annual Scots poetry festival which was always well received by families and the menu of tunes the Music Group played always opened with a set of traditional pieces. My shift to Peterhead in the last 3 years has seen the focus shift back to the language of the north east with Meethill having taken part in and winning the Primary School category in the inaugural Doric Film Festival. As well as enjoying the success and recognition of the award, I am very much looking forward to the opportunities to further promote and celebrate Doric that will open up to the pupils on the back of this achievement. Much of the focus in education is on making learning experiences relevant to the children’s lives. One vehicle for ensuring this is to use and celebrate the language of their community and heritage. One further example of my commitment to the local tongue usually comes around during my involvement as a delegate at the annual EIS national conference. Over many years, the speech in support or opposition to a Motion delivered by Jocky Black has become something of an event and generally engenders a level of anticipation and amusement which isn’t always representative of the overall tone of the conference!
Any particular career highlights?
I’ve enjoyed many proud moments in my teaching career and many of the them have had a very direct link to the heritage of the north east. Seeing children perform the plays I wrote in New Pitsligo in such a competent manner that the audiences were genuinely entertained was a real treat. To have the Fetterangus Music group invited to open the first ever Aberdeenshire Celebration of Success event was a proud moment, as indeed was the invitation to participate at that same event 3 years later with the Choir from Meethill. And of course, most recently to have had the opportunity to deliver the acceptance speech on behalf of the P6 class from Meethill at the ceremony for the Doric Film Awards.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to continue to promote our local tongue wherever and whenever the opportunities present themselves and to further support the many extremely competent, creative and committed staff with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work over the years.
If you wish to attend the Scots Language Awards, tickets are available to buy via: https://www.ticketsglasgow.com/Pages/EventDetail.aspx?EventId=8fd8b867-811e-4bfc-a2c0-aab900efc42b For box office call 0141 353 8000. Performing on Friday 27th September include Iona Fyfe Trio, Susi Briggs, Steve Byrne and more to be announced.
If you would like to support Hands Up for Trad in their work with Scottish trad music and musicians please consider supporting our Patreon campaign. We have 3 tiers starting at $1 a month and everything helps support us in our work. Read more at www.patreon.com/handsupfortrad
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