March saw a very welcome return to an in-person conference of primary and second-level Educate Together principals when about 60 school leaders assembled in Galway for the two-day event. After a two year covid-19 enforced absence this was an important network and relationship building event, and especially for those new school leaders who took up their principalship this year or last.
As well as the warm chats there was a full conference programme – highlights included the much valued sharing of experience and knowledge through a panel discussion on the Educate Together Nurture project – Gemma Curry (Esker ETNS), Lesley Byrne (Clogher Road Community College) and Niall Quinn (Westport ETNS) shared their school’s nurture journey to date; gems of wisdom and great ideas were shared in the PrincipalMeet session; school leader well-being and self-care were attended to by guest speaker Dr. Catriona O’Toole from Maynooth University; Harry Freeman shared his insight into the intersection of behaviour management with support for students with additional needs and Dr. Gerard McHugh provided the key note address.
Despite all the rigour of the inputs, arguably the most enjoyable event was the farewell reception for Educate Together’s longest serving staff member, Deirdre O’Donoghue. After 27 years, Deirdre will leave employment with Educate Together to embark on a new career in group therapy. There were warm speeches, a song and poetry by Educate Together CEO, Emer Nowlan, Dermot Stanley (principal of Canal Way ETNS) and Miriam Hurley (principal of Dalkey School Project).