Interview with Dan Leo, Principal of Scoil Mhuire Naofa.
Published East Cork Journal, Thursday November 1st 2007.
This week I went to Interview Dan Leo, the Principal of Scoil Mhuire Naofa Carrigtwohill. Arriving at the school I was greeted by the teachers and pupils. I was surprised at how many students there were. Having attended the girl’s primary school in Carrigtwohill I remember that at times like First Communion and Confirmation the girls always out-numbered the boys.
Since first opening back in 1956 the school has gone from strength to strength. Some may recall the years when the school was struggling to keep up the numbers but now the school is thriving with a current enrolment of 231 children.
The pupils come from all areas of East Cork and also there are children from eleven different nationalities in the school. “The majority are Nigerian but there are also children from Poland, Lithuania, Spain, The Philippines and China”, explains Principal Dan Leo.
To cater for the increase in numbers of students there are now 15 teachers including special needs assistants, resource teachers and also language support teachers who help the 45 children in the school who have travelled from other countries.
The school also plays a big part in organising an after school homework club for the students. In co-ordination with the girl’s primary school and Saint Vincent De Paul an after school homework club is organised in the resource centre. Principal Dan Leo is grateful that this opportunity is available to the students
“The children are very well looked after and breakfast is organised inmornings and homework help in the afternoons which is a great help to the parents”.
The schools greatest asset is their sports teacher Mr Foley who is described as being always hopeful and “an eternal optimist”.The school is big into sports, hurling and football and particularly with the Sciath na Scoil. Mr Foley is in charge of preparing students for the Sciath na Scoil and the team hope to be in the final this year.
The children are also involved in the mini sevens which will take place in the middle of November. The team are considered to be high up in the football leagues, which is a great achievement for the school.
Every year there is a primary school team which is made up of children from different schools across the county. Children are judged and selected based on their talent by a strict panel. Last year young talent was spotted in the school and Christopher Keegan was selected to become part of the team.
Scoil Mhuire Naofa is also involved in Primary school sports. Last year James Walsh brought home a medal to the school.
“The school is very conscious of the necessity to have all the boys become competent swimmers in the interest of their own safety”.
For this reason the school offers swimming lessons to the children each year. The children take part in these lessons at Mayfield swimming pool and the lessons are spread over 8 weeks.
Sporting activities aside, the school also offers music lessons. Walking down the halls of the school all that can be heard is the echo of tin whistles coming from the classrooms. Each classroom is equipped with tin whistles and last year the school offered guitar lessons. Due to the success of last years guitar lessons Principal Dan Leo is
“hopeful that the guitar lessons will take place again this year”.
The school also takes part in an annual carol service. The children will soon begin preparing for this when they return after their mid-term.
The school has been involved in computers since 1990. They were one of the first seven schools to be involved in interneting and even sent their weather forecast and details to NASA. Today the school has a computer lab equipped with 15 computers. There is also a computer in each room. All computers are connected to a central printing system and have Broadband access to the internet. This is an advantage to the children as they can have access to the internet for homework and school projects.
Dan Leo admits that the school is lucky to have a “vibrant parents association” in the school. All the school fundraising is organised by them. In the past they have helped in organising the funds to purchase computers, photocopiers and books and they also use the money raised to subsidise the cost of P.E, Music, Speech and Drama and transport to sporting events.
Apart from fundraising for school needs the school also plays a big part in collecting money for charities. This year the 6th class pupils will organise a collection for the “Miracle Tree” organisation. The collect will help to plant a Moringa trees in parts of Eritrea and Ethiopia. These trees are fast growing and help to end hunger and malnutrition in the area. Fundraising helps students to learn about the problems in developing countries like Ethiopia and also helps them do something to help.
So as far as the future goes Principal Dan Leo expects equally high ennoblement numbers next year. The school has recently installed two more prefabs to cater for the increasing numbers and he does not believe that the recent Amgen closure will affect numbers in any way.
Leaving the school I felt as If id learnt so much. Who would have thought that so much could be going on behind the doors of this small school building? The sport facilities surpass those in many schools and children are also being kept up to date with all the modern classroom essentials such as guitar lessons and broadband.