School patron body pays tribute to ‘outstanding’ principal who led the establishment of Educate Together Secondary School Wicklow

Educate Together has today paid tribute to Colm Kehoe, the founding principal of Educate Together Secondary School Wicklow, who died suddenly at his home in Gorey on Saturday 4th June.

Colm was appointed principal of ETSS Wicklow in May 2019, when the new school was announced. He brought a wealth of experience from his work in education in Ireland and abroad and invested huge time, skill and hard work to build a wonderful team of staff and a strong school community.

CEO Emer Nowlan said:

“We were all shocked and deeply saddened to hear this terrible news. Colm was an outstanding school leader – his dedication to young people and passion for student-centred learning were clearly visible to all who knew him. In three short years, Colm has built a vibrant, happy school community in ETSS Wicklow, where students are at the centre of everything, and educational innovation and creativity are the norm. And every step of the way, Colm put students first – his quiet modesty was in contrast to his enormous achievements as an educator and school principal.”

Chair of the Board of Management of Wicklow ETSS, Danny Haskins, expressed the profound sadness of the whole school community on the loss of Colm:

“As the leader of our new school community, Colm built strong relationships with students, parents, staff and board members over the past three years, and we are devastated at his loss. He was a committed professional, a highly-valued colleague and a much-loved teacher who brought Educate Together’s student-centred and democratic ethos to life in ETSS Wicklow over the past three years.”

Colm’s achievements during his career as a teacher and school leader were many. Just in the past three years, he established the Wicklow Model United Nations within months of opening a brand new secondary school, inviting students from around the region to ETSS Wicklow to discuss global issues and develop leadership and other important skills. He then successfully moved this initiative online, providing important engagement and connections for students during the pandemic and ensuring continuity of learning. He also created the first all-Ireland Educate Together debating competition and engaged the whole national Educate Together second-level school network in this uplifting and educational online event.

Colm Kehoe returned to Ireland from Belgium in 2019 to take up the role of school principal in ETSS Wicklow, having spent ten years as a teacher of English with the European Schools and two years as coordinator of Model United Nations conferences in Brussels. He had worked in education in five countries – Ireland, England, Spain, Belgium and Guatemala – and held Bachelors Degrees in Arts and Law and Masters Degrees in International Law and Educational Leadership and Management.

Emer Nowlan again:

“Colm’s contribution to education is immeasurable and we will all miss his quiet passion for education, his creative ideas and his commitment to equality and student-centred learning. That he has left us at such a young age is tragic, and all of us in the Educate Together network join with his family and the ETSS Wicklow community in mourning his terrible loss. His impact has been huge in the lives of students, staff and volunteers he worked with, and in setting ETSS Wicklow on the right course, he leaves a lasting and tangible legacy.”

Funeral arrangements: