Shortlist of Ireland’s most inspiring teachers announced by DCU

Twenty teachers from across Ireland were announced by DCU as the shortlisted teachers for the inaugural Teachers Inspire Ireland initiative. 

The initiative, which is focused on highlighting the enormous contribution made by teachers in Irish society, was launched by DCU earlier this year, with the support of businessman and philanthropist Dermot Desmond. 

Earlier this year, DCU called for members of the public to share their personal stories of how a teacher transformed their lives and / or their community.  The 20 teachers announced today – five from each province – have been shortlisted from over 400 entries received from every corner of Ireland. None of the teachers knew they were nominated in advance.

Announcing the shortlist today, Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU, said: “The entries submitted to Teachers Inspire Ireland demonstrate just how significant a role teachers play in Irish life. 

“We received stories about teachers dealing in an inspirational way with major societal challenges.  We received stories of teachers who have played – and continue to play – a key part in helping individuals and whole communities adapt to change. 

“The nominations highlighted teachers dealing with issues such as homelessness, mental health, immigration, unplanned pregnancies, gender identity support, community regeneration, and climate change.  They were submitted by schoolchildren, parents, and people whose school days are long behind them but who remember their teachers with great fondness and gratitude. 

“What is abundantly clear from the nominations received is the extent to which so many teachers go above and beyond their ‘job description’.  It was extraordinarily difficult to select a shortlist of 20 from all the amazing stories we received. However, the 20 teachers being celebrated today have had truly lasting and transformative impacts on the lives of their students and on their wider communities.”

The Teachers Inspire shortlist includes:

Elaine O’Malley, Acting Principal at Merlin Woods Primary School in Galway City.  Elaine was nominated because of the support she provided for a family in the school who became homeless last year.

Seamas Cassidy, Tuam CBS.  A former Christian Brother, Seamas was nominated by Liam Moggan, whom he taught in the 1970s.  During Seamas’s time as a teacher, timetables in the local convent schools were adapted so that girls could access his Honours Maths classes – an option unavailable to them in their own schools.

Mary Daly, recently retired from St. Dominic’s College in Ballyfermot.  Mary was nominated by her former student, Niamh Smith. While Mary still taught at St. Dominic’s, Niamh returned to the school to work in its after-school programme and, encouraged by Mary, went on to study Community and Youth Work at Maynooth University. 

Ann Moriarty, a teacher in the FET (Further Education and Training) sector, who was nominated by Phyllis Lawlor.  Phyllis is in her 70s and credits Ann with opening up “a whole new world of wonder” for her after she completed courses taught by Ann on how to use smart devices. 

Jim Collins, who retired as Principal of Iniscealtra National School in Mountshannon, Co. Clare last year.  He was nominated by Roisin Bugler, who attended the school in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In her nomination, she commended Jim for encouraging his pupils to pursue science experiments, grow their own vegetables and flowers, set up savings accounts, and participate in exchanges with his former school in Dublin (“exchanges between the Clare culchies and the Dublin jackeens”). 

Entries to Teachers Inspire were reviewed by a panel chaired by former President of Ireland Mary McAleese. 

A Teachers Inspire Ireland gala event will take place at The Helix, DCU, on Friday, October 4, at which four of the shortlisted teachers – one from each province – will receive the inaugural Teachers Inspire Ireland Desmond Awards.

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