DROMARA Primary School principal Mr. Stanley Poots is to become the third former Dromore Central Primary School teacher to fill the top post at the Ulster Teachers' Union.
Mr. Poots will be installed as UTU president next April - after spending the coming year as vice-president elect - and will relinquish his day-to-day role as Dromara Primary principal for the duration of his 12-month term.
He follows in the footsteps of Mr. Fred McCarroll, Dromore Central Principal during Mr. Poots' time at the school, and another former Dromore Central colleague, Mrs. Moira Alexander.
Mrs. Alexander, until recently chairperson of the Southern Education and Library Board, served as UTU president during her time as principal at Kinallen's Fair Hill Primary School.
Well-known Dromara man Mr. Poots was installed as vice-president elect at the UTU conference in the Slieve Donard Hotel at the weekend.
He will spend the next 12 months in the role, shadowing current president, Mrs. Jacqui Reid from Coleraine, standing in for her when necessary and generally learning the ropes for his year as president.
He is in line to be the leading figure in an organisation that represents some 7,000 Northern Ireland teachers, but he has decades of trade union involvement to stand him in good stead.
"I started in Dromore Central Primary School when Mr. Fred McCarroll was principal," he said, "and he was quite an influence on me.
"He was also a very strong union representative and just as I was leaving he became president of the Ulster Teachers' Union.
"He always encouraged me to take an interest in union matters and I think it's through his enthusiasm that I have stuck with it over the years."
A member of the UTU Executive for the last five or six years, Mr. Poots has been chairman of the UTU's Dromore Committee - representing all the schools in the wider the Dromore area – and chairman of the Lurgan based Southern Area Association, into which the Dromore Committee feeds.
The Southern Area group was one of a number of area associations that together named Mr. Poots as the only nominee for vice-president elect this year.
He said of the job ahead, "I think it is something special and I am looking forward to it.
"It's something that at this stage of my career is challenging and different and I hope I can bring to bear a wee bit of experience gathered over the years."
Principal at Dromara Primary since 1970, and resident nearby, Mr. Poots doesn't plan to be a stranger to the school during his temporary absence from his post.
But he is confident that the school will be in good hands during his year out, most likely those of current vice-principal Mrs. Heather Milligan.