Minister Norma Foley visited Caherleaheen National School on February 14th 2022!
Bhíomar ar bís! We dusted ourselves down and wore our hearts on our sleeves, our crests on our uniform and the children chatted enthusiastically and confidently- sharing our news, stories, initiatives, interests and all the colours of the Caherleaheen rainbow!
Bhí lá speisialta againn.
Aire Oideachais- Minister Norma Foley arrived a little earlier than expected, but we were ready and excited.
The positive atmosphere was palpable as soon as our first Robins arrived at 8.30am. She was amazing from beginning to end. Her main aim was to connect with pupils and to hear what they had to say. Yes, she met some teachers, assistants, our BoM Chairperson: Vivian Nolan, Michelle Culloty, BoM Parent Rep. Elaina Ryan (CEO of Children’s Books Ireland), Brendan Grieve and Dan O’ Shea of Enterprise Holdings. But, to be perfectly honest, she really came to meet the children! That was obvious and most welcome. Our Student Council, with little prompting, managed her arrival and the initial reception. They took full control of the tour of our corridors and displays.
We began with a short February ’21 video on the reception screen. It was recorded ‘way back’ this time last year and forwarded to you all. Do you remember it? It was incredibly moving to hear the Student Council speak freely about the advantages and disadvantages of home-schooling, face to face with the Minister of Education and Skills, Norma Foley. (‘call me Norma, please’).
She was very impressed by this oral account while the video played. We lingered there for a while.
She marveled at our Award Wall, art, literacy, Bird Challenge 21, and Green Schools displays. What we admired most about Norma is that she ignored the adults, as best she could! Her focus was on the real VIPs-our pupils. We made our way through to the staffroom and on to the patio. Ms. Brid Murphy managed to nail the adults down for a 4 min stand-up cuppa’, Then, we followed Norma towards the hall… as you do!
Sixth Class were ready, seated in a perfect African drum circle when staff opened the doors to the hall. What an entrance and thundering salute for Norma and others! Our BLAST Artist in Residence, Martin Scharer, could not have been prouder. It was superb!
Presentations from Children’s Books Ireland, as Gaeilge agus as Béarla followed.
The book ‘Why the Moon Travels’ was generously sponsored by Enterprise Holdings. It’s an acclaimed collection of short stories, all grounded and illuminated by the folklore of the mincéirí, penned by Oein DeBhairduin and illustrated by Leanne McDonagh. It is a collaborative ROAD Forward initiative, encouraging access to books, diversity of content and opportunity for all social groups to enjoy reading a rich, but often hidden part of our folklore. This book will be distributed to over a hundred schools around the country. We are honoured that the official launch of this book took place in Caherleaheen NS! Ms. Claire, our deputy principal, could not have been prouder that her application for these books was such a success.
Norma spoke directly to Sixth Class and the Student Council about the positive impact that reading and sharing of books can have on their lives. She also reminded them that the staff, parents, BoM, ancillary staff, and our whole community ‘make’ and contribute whole-heartedly to a school and that they care deeply for our children, their education, and their welfare. She debated the pros and cons of a ‘whole-school night off homework’ versus an optional ‘off homework token’ with a few of our pupils. Unfortunately, Norma’s recommendation was overturned- democratically, unanimously, and discreetly! We left the hall as soon as she and other visitors had learned the ‘fish and chips, carrots and fish’ rhythm on their African drums. Our esteemed visitors were quick learners….
But the clock was ticking and Minister Norma Foley was called away, as we began to exit the hall. However, that didn’t stop her. She diverted, by visiting First Class, Junior Infants, and then Fifth Class! Great fun, chat and interaction there, finishing with our little infants singing along with Ms. Martina’s ukulele.
Finally, a few pupils presented her with thoughtful gifts- a gorgeous rainbow created by a boy in Fifth Class and framed by Ms. Gemma, as well as a beautiful stone and branch artwork from the BoM, representing all of our community and all that we strive to do, here in CaherleaheenNational School . Thank you, Michelle Culloty, BoM. for your craftmanship and generosity!
Eventually, Minister Norma Foley was ushered away, with lots of love and appreciation…..and a bouquet of roses and lilies. The love and appreciation was reciprocated….
St Valentine’s, 2022, in Caherleaheen NS was extra special. Gabhaimid buíochas ó chroí do ‘Norma’.
Enjoy this fabulous video, from Michelle Culloty, BoM Parent Rep.
PS. Special thanks to Jennifer who followed our visitors and pupils with the school camera. Thanks too, for the extra support from our cleaners, gardener/caretaker, teachers and assistants, Sharon, not to mention our lovely visitors, Dan, Brendan, Elaina – and our very own VIPs- Very Important Pupils!