Bunscoil Phobal Feirste
School website: bunscoilphobalfeirste.ci.uk
Subject: SEN Teaching assistant.
Your place of birth: Belfast.
Studied at: St Dominic's.
First job: Assessment assistant, St Patrick's Training School, Glen Road, Belfast.
What it taught me: Children are a product of their environment. The importance of secure attachment.
Best advice anyone ever gave you: We work for the children. All behaviour is communication.
Best advice you could give someone thinking of a teaching career: It is a privilege to have such input into the lives of our pupils. We need to do so with empathy, positivity and a clear explanation of the rules and boundaries
I come from a family of eight children and was born at home in Sevastopol Street in 1969. In 1971 my parents and a group of their friends had a vision of reviving the Irish language and creating a nurturing environment for their children. They bought some land on Shaws Road, built the houses which were to become known as the 'Irish Houses' and acquired a Portakabin which became the first Irish medium school in the North of Ireland. On my third birthday, after envying my brother for almost five months, I was finally allowed to go to school. I grew up surrounded by teachers, including my mother. My neighbours were my first teachers. School was a happy place of learning where we were nurtured and valued.
After spending 18 years in America, I moved home with my husband (also a teacher) and four children. In 2010 I was excited to be offered a job at Bunscoil Phobal Feirste and I've been there ever since. I absolutely love my job and can't think of anything more rewarding than trying to bring out the best in all of our pupils. I have worked closely with outstanding teachers from whom I've learned so much.
Our Principal, Vice Principal and SENCO have striven to create a whole-school nurture approach with an emphasis on positive behaviour management. Staff training is provided regularly and we work closely with Middletown School for Autism and Helen Stewart, EANI Nurture Support. The classroom assistants help and support each other on a daily basis and we regularly share our experiences and best practices. As I watch our pupils grow in confidence and our language flourish, it makes me so happy to help continue something conceived by those visionaries 50 years ago.