It’s exciting times for Claregalway’s Educate Together school which has increased in numbers from 29 when it opened in 2005 to over 150 now and with a waiting list for places.
And there was egg-citement in the school last week as two chickens were hatched in an incubator in the senior infants and first class room. The children were almost shell shocked with delight watching the baby birds peck their way out through the shells.
It is all part of the diversity in the classrooms that has made the Educate Together school in Claregalway so successful.
But that diversity is tempered with a strong emphasis on discipline too, while attention to fostering a love of the Irish language is also a priority at the school, says principal Terri Claffey.
“Our emphasis on teaching Irish is something that was commented on very favourably during a recent schools inspection, as was our teaching of many types of music, including Traditional Irish music and songs.
“Three teachers join 18 students on two days each week for music lessons while the recorder is taught from first class upwards. Students and teachers who play Traditional instruments also play for events such as the Ceilí Mór during Seachtain na Gaeilge while during Ceilí sa Chlós í rang a dó the boys and girls are taught Irish dancing, often in the school yard when we have favourable weather,” says the principal.
Many types of sports area played in the school, including hurling from infant classes upwards in the area known as the Castle Field at the side of the school—almost in the shadow of Claregalway Castle.
Meanwhile the school’s volleyball team under the captaincy of Laura Adamajtys recently reached the All-Ireland final. They play in a yard that was marked out to size by members of the parents’ committee and which looks across at the old Claregalway Abbey ruins.
Indeed two of the parents who are artistic, Philip Lindey and Chris Mahoney, have painted a very detailed and colourful mural on the outside wall of one of the classrooms. It has scenes from children’s modern books, plays and TV in sharp detail in the foreground, merged with a soft-focus style painting of the old friary ruins and the refurbished Claregalway Castle as an atmospheric, almost misty, medieval period scene that is a complementary and relevant localised backdrop.
Teacher Eimear Coen with her class, and a little help from parents who came in during Activity Week, helped the children to construct a very quirky bug hotel in the front garden of the school.
The parents too were involved in helping put on a number of short musical sketches, including Giraffes Can’t Dance, during the school’s Winter Celebrations at the start of this year and the nearby SMA Hall was generously given to them to stage the shows.
It is a very important part of life at Educate Together, Claregalway and the principal is delighted with the way the children adapt to all aspects of new technology.
“We have a suite of 16 iPads which are used in every classroom. Currently two children get together to use those from a sports angle too as they select their countries for the European Soccer Championships.
“Using an appropriate app, they will design a presentation regarding their selected countries and of course the hope of all of them is for Ireland to do well.”
Terri added that many changes have taken place since the school first opened “on a sunny day” in 2005 with only two teachers and 29 pupils. So great has been the demand for places at the school since that their temporary premises hasn’t hindered its growth and the site for their new permanent school has been confirmed by the Department of Education.
“It will be on the same campus as the Coláiste Bhaile Chláir school, and we are looking forward to moving to our own new school there in Claregalway Corporate Park within two to three years,” says the principal.
“We have always had excellent parental involvement here and there is a friendly buzz around the school with good interaction between staff and pupils.
“The result is the achievement of our fifth green flag, while the Green committee and the pupils’ council are elected annually,” says Terri.
To say that Educate Together in Claregalway is a massive success is an understatement.
It’s a progressive school that also prides itself in having high academic standards.
With a new permanent building in the pipeline there are exciting times ahead.
With the arrival of the two chicks in the classroom they’ve had egg-citing times in recent weeks there too!