Head of the Class- Castlemartyr NS
Published – East Cork Journal – Thursday, February 21st 2008.
Interview with Principal Jane Flannery.
My visit to this school was certainly unlike that of any of the other schools I have gone to. When I walked through the doors I could hear singing coming from the hall and after being introduced to Principal Jane Flannery I was brought down to the hall where all the children in the school were singing in preparation for their Christmas carol service. The children were very enthusiastic and beamed up at me with huge smiles as they praticed their songs. I walked around and was introduced to many students including members of the Sciath Na Scoil team and the Science Class. Before leaving the hall the children sang the school motto. They sang it with great pride and enthusiasm.
The school currently has 136 pupils and caters for children from Castlemartyr and Mogeely. Originally opened in 1980 the school was run by Principal Patrick Wade up until last year when Jane Flannery stepped in and took over. Formerly a teacher in Carrigtwohill boy’s school and principal of a small school Jane Flannery “enjoys the challenge of working in Castlemartyr School”. 7 full time teachers and one part time teacher make up the all female staff.
There are many extra curricular activities in this school. In sport Bernadette O’Brien takes a basketball club every Wednesday afternoon. The school is equipped with two full size basket ball courts which is certainly an asset to the children. The school is also involved in Sciath Na Scoil. Having not taken part in this for many years the school has this year decided to return to competing in the Sciath na Scoil this year and for the first time ever the girls are also involved. The children are also involved in swimming lessons which take place in the Aura Leisure Centre in Youghal and they also took part in a recent skipping work shop.The main focus of course is the GAA with the children being big hurling and football enthusiasts. The girls are also for the first time involved in ladies football.
Dancing lessons also take place once a week in the school. The modern dance classes are thought every by Sinead Shepherd who many may remember for her being part of the Irish
Pop star group Six. The classes take place on Mondays and there are separate classes for the junior and senior children. Speech and Drama is also taught in the school by Joy Alabaster who has been teaching at the school for many years now. 5th and 6th class children also take part in a discover science program. Co-ordinated by their teacher Fiona O Callaghan the children learn about different aspects of science including magnetism. They conduct practical experiments which helps them have a better understanding of the subject.
When asked whether or not the school was involved in any healthy eating program Principal Jane Flannery comments “Oh yes very much we have the most rigorous healthy eating program in East cork”. The children have just completed the “Food Dudes Program” which was promoted by Bord Bia. . The children were delivered fruit and vegetables every day for 3 weeks and then encouraged with bribes and awards to keep bringing them. This was a great way for the children to learn about healthy eating and as Principal Flannery says. “It does take a lot of time on the part of the staff but it is paying off”.
While the school is not a green school the staff are very green orientated. The school has a full recycling management program in operation and the children are encouraged to recycle as much as possible.
As a new principal Jane Flannery’s main focus is making the school her own. The school motto is “Let the rooms be filled with happiness”. And her philosophy is that “the process of doing everything is what counts rather than the product”. There are schools where everything on the walls has to be perfect and the singing must be in tune but she’s says that “here the children are exposed to everything and we are very open to the new curriculum”.
Every week a child from each class is awarded the title of “Student of the Week”. The award is given based on the child’s actions in class and commitment to school work. This is a good way to fulfil the schools motto and award the children.
In her short time at the school there has been a total refit of the school which was partially funded by the government and the rest was fundraised by the Parents Association. The school has had a complete make over. It has been painted and has new floor coverings. The school also had a complete electrical refit. Jane Flannery gives full praise to Parents association and Chairperson Emer Murphy for all that they have done for the school.
Last year the big agenda was reading. The students took part in a paired reading program. This meant that every senior student was paired off with a younger child so that they could help them with their reading. “Paired reading was the most successful thing that we did” claims Principal Jane Flannery. This year it is the “Year of Maths” in Castlemartyr. And the school is fundraising for maths equipment and practical classroom equipment as the government grants do not give enough for this.
Many may remember Treasure Island an RTE reality TV show which took place a few years ago. The winner Sean O’Brien is a past pupil at the school and is now married to his Treasure Island competitor Bernadette O’Brien who teaches at the school. Another claim to fame is 6th class pupil Catherine Fitzgerald. Catherine has a lot to be proud of as she has not missed at single day of school since starting in Junior Infants. There are certainly not many who can say that.