"MAGS is Flying!" A Tribute to a MAGS Legend

We sadly farewell Mr McKinley as he goes on to become the Principal of Glenfield, after 11 years of teaching at MAGS. We had the privilege of interviewing him, and hearing all about his interesting life.


Before Mr McKinley worked at MAGS, he was a history teacher at Westlake, and a Dean and a Head of History. Mr McKinley came to MAGS in 2006, not long after his daughter was born. His first impression of the school was "Holy hell, what have I got myself into," although he was also excited by the idea of being able to make a change. He told himself "If I go to MAGS it'll be hard work, but then I can handle harder schools".

Today he quotes "Through hardship to glory," as it took a lot of effort, but he has helped the school reach the fantastic state it is currently in. When he first started at MAGS, Mr McKinley gave our school a 5/10, but now he rates it a 9/10 and says "MAGS is flying!" He feels he is leaving it in a better place than when he arrived.

Assemblies often make Mr McKinley seem stricter than he actually is so he hopes people can see the fun, normal person he is outside of assemblies. Mr McKinley is definitely a people person, as that is what he loves most about his job. He says he wouldn't be able to work in an office in the city. He is passionate about helping people and knowing he has made a difference, and I'm sure everyone appreciates it just as much as he loves it.
He believes self-belief is an important trait to have, as it will get you anywhere in life. That is one of many things he has brought to the school, like "high socks, high standards," resilience, and the ability to believe you are just as good as everyone else - if not, better.

He has been working toward this new role for most of his career. After spending 11 years being the deputy principal at MAGS, he’s ready to move onward and upward to being the main leader of a school. He was recently looking for ways to move forward so when the position at Glenfield opened up, Mr McKinley jumped at the opportunity.

The Glenfield pillars are pride and respect, which makes sense to him. He went through a lot of interviewing, and when we asked for tips, he said it’s best just to be yourself. “An interview is just a discussion,” he says.

When he was taken around the school by Glenfield students, he saw a piece of rubbish on the ground and picked it up. This earned him an earnest recommendation to the staff. Another tip he shared was, “You’ve got to have goal setting to succeed.”

We asked for advice for students going for jobs, and he described EQ. “EQ is emotional intelligence.” He thinks it’s the most important thing in life. “Use it by being prepared, and planning, and anything is possible. A student once said to me, if you drop the ‘t’, you can.”

Originally only 61% of students who were in-zone, attended MAGS.That number has crept up to 80%. This proves our community have a growing faith in us. They trust MAGS to give their kids opportunities, academic success, and the best five years of their lives. Our academic, sports, and arts achievements have sky-rocketed and the service here is phenomenal. In addition, the student safety is well taken care of. Students can comfortably leave their belongings out without fear of it being stolen, and bullying is suitably dealt with.

Mr McKinley’s greatest accomplishment at MAGS was his friendship with an a student named Sally Ann Ainley. She passed away from cancer a couple of years after she had finished at MAGS, and now there is a plaque near E block to commemorate her. As Mr McKinley says, “Nothing can match friendship.”

Mr McKinley says he will miss the people most after leaving MAGS. The school is full of fantastic people and he will miss both staff and students. He says that he enjoys the company of all the students, even the naughty ones, and tries to show an interest in them.

“A caring person who believed in what he was doing” is how Mr McKinley wants to be remembered after he leaves. He wants to feel he has made a difference to the school, and was passionate and believed in the students.

“The challenge,” excites Mr McKinley most about the future. Since his new school Glenfield College is a lot smaller than MAGS, at around 500 students, he feels it will be different and exciting. He said “while they’re small, they can be just as good,” showing that he doesn’t mind the size and thinks it is a good opportunity to join a new, slightly smaller, community. He said “when we go somewhere, we have to make sure we fit the school.”

He can foresee that the next few years will be tough, though his great love for learning and his drive for self improvement have encouraged him to take up this new role. He says ”I don't want to have regrets. Saying I never took that jump, to be a principal". Self respect and self belief are core values of importance to him. He also understands that people develop at different times which implements his belief that there is no such thing as a ‘use by date’.

Mr. McKinley believes the school has helped him understand people, the challenges they face, and society better. It has showed him that money cannot buy happiness. There are incredibly wealthy people and non-wealthy people, but both can be just as happy.

He says if given the chance to start his job again, there are definitely things he would have done differently. Reflection and being open to new learning is all part of growth, to him. “I’ve learnt a huge amount in the last decade,” he says with memories of years teaching swirling in his eyes. Being a parent has changed him, he now has a more personal experience with children. He believes he would change the way he dealt with some things - allow wiggle room, and try not to be so black and white.

When asked how we, as year nines, can continue his legacy in representing the school; he simply states: Be the best we can be. Continue to try our hardest to excel and better ourselves, as that is all that is asked. He says our parents just want us to try our best.With his family being so important, he says his biggest accomplishment outside of school would be raising two children and becoming a parent. His family share two cats and a dog, but when asked if a cat or a dog person he says dog. He also has a passion for being active and sports, you will often see him running the cross-country each year with the juniors. His favourite sport is soccer/football with him being a strong Liverpool supporter. This coincides with his favourite colour, red, which is also the colour of the Liverpool football team. He prefers English over Maths, and sweet over savoury.

Mr McKinley is a wonderful person and we will all miss him greatly. He will never be forgotten, as he has moulded this fantastic school into its current form. We wish him all the best for the future, and we know he will be an admirable role model for his new students.

By Jess Wanden-Hannay, Ella Vuetilovoni, Melissa Barnes, Rosa Jack, and Polly Tse


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