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June 10, 2003

Deafness No Barrier for 'Class Act' Julie

From: icNorthern Ireland, UK - Jun 10, 2003

By Kate Cooney

A DEAF Belfast teacher has battled the odds to win a prestigious award for her work in her school's English department.

Julie Graham has spent three years helping youngsters at Hunterhouse College to GCSE and A-Level success.

And yesterday she was thrilled to be presented with the Outstanding New Teacher in a Secondary School Award at the 2003 Teaching Awards ceremony.

She said: ''It was a shock, but a great honour to win the award. When I said I wanted to be a teacher initially a lot of people seemed to tell me how difficult it would be.

''As a deaf person I'm having to break through barriers all the time, and I see this award as proving it was worth it to keep going.

''It's vitally important children have access to the differences in people, most of the pupils I work with don't see me as deaf now, I'm just their teacher.''

Julie was one of 22 winners to receive an award at the Waterfront Hall.

Isabel Russell, from St Gabriel's Secondary School, won her award for school and community involvement, after she masterminded a crosscommunity choir of Catholic pupils from her school and Protestant youngsters from Gilbert Community College.

She said: ''The group has given the pupils an insight into different cultures. It shows them that religion doesn't really matter at the end of the day.''

Crumlin's Jim Matthews won the Primary School Teacher of the Year Award for his work at St Joseph's Primary. Jim has worked hard to get IT training sessions for staff, and has taken a lead role in organising musical productions with the children.

In the field of special needs teaching Louise Davey, of Dundonald High School, said she was ''humbled and flattered'' by her win.

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