SINCE taking over as principal in September, Lorraine Burke has found her new role in Tuam’s Scoil Mhuire to be both exciting and rewarding.
A native of Claregalway, Lorraine was a teacher in the primary school for 14 years before becoming principal.
“I suppose I was fortunate in that I knew all the staff and had a great relationship with them, which has made the transition easier and more seamless,” said Lorraine, who had been teaching junior infants prior to the start of this school year.
“There was already a very solid foundation put in place by Mary Trayers, the outgoing principal.”
Altogether, there is a staff of 22 in Scoil Mhuire, with Ann Murphy acting as the Deputy Principal. There are nine mainstream classes, including four ASD units for children with autism, and a total of 188 pupils in all.
The pupils have designed new playground markings in the school yard, which has been done to encourage them to play more games with one another. It is one of many aspects being undertaken in this calendar year to help Scoil Mhuire achieve the goal of obtaining a flag as part of the Active School Flag initiative in June of 2018.
Accordingly, once a week there is a Be Active club, and an Active Flag Committee made up of 12 pupils. The school’s ladies football team is another strang to this, and they train together every week.
In a separate sporting sense, members of the Tuam Athletics Club and gymnastics students from NUIG and GMIT have also visited Scoil Mhuire in recent months.
A new mural was painted in the school of late, and funding of €1,000 was provided for it by the St. Jarlath’s Credit Union located across the road.
The school has a strong musical tradition, with the violin and the tin whistle two of the disciplines being taught. Funding from Galway Rural Development for a music project also sees a tutor come into the school once a week.
Allied to that, the pupils in Scoil Mhuire also have access to a yoga instructor this year. The instructor visits each class for a period of six weeks at a time.
The ‘Peer 4 Peer Programme’ is run in conjunction with with the Mercy Secondary School nearby. Transition Year students from the secondary school meet with pupils from sixth class to talk with them and guide them through the process involved in making the switch to second level education.
Sixth class pupils in Scoil Mhuire in turn help out the children in the youngest class in the school. Buddy Reading is run by sixth class teacher Joanne O’Grady and Emer Kelly, who is in charge of junior infants.
“It’s of dual benefit to both classes. It gives more confidence to the sixth class pupils, and helps the junior infants ot develop their own reading skills,” said Principal Lorraine Burke.
A programme in the school which also aims to give pupils further confidence in themselves is station teaching. A new methodology being employed over the last few years that focuses on individual learning and integration, it involves small groups of four or five pupils in all classes receiving hands-on attention from their teacher in the fields of numeracy and literacy.
Because it was National Science Week from November 12 to 19, the pupils in Scoil Mhuire completed a number of science experiments last week.
And the traditional skill of knitting is taught as part of arts and crafts, where pupils design their own patterns and creations.