As we near the end of another school year... let's hear it for the teachers!

Schools play a major role in our children’s lives. Here EIMEAR HUTCHINSON reflects on her position in the Parents’ Association, and why it was so important to her integration into the local community
As we near the end of another school year... let's hear it for the teachers!

Eimear Hutchinson recalls how being on the PA of her girls' school was a great way to get to know people.

I’M sitting down to write this at the end of a long day... well, they all seem like long days lately, I still can’t decide if that is a good thing or not!

I am just in the door from a parents’ association meeting at our local school. It was a meet and greet night with the Junior and Senior Infant parents, many of whom had never been inside the door of the school with all the restrictions that Covid brought our way during the last two years. I had to talk to the parents about being part of the Parents Association (PA) as we try to recruit new members and fresh energy.

I was putting together a few words to say to them and it got me thinking about how it has been a great way to meet new people and build up our support network and friendship circle that has proved invaluable in so many ways to us over the last few years.

I joined our local PA around five years ago when we moved to the village. Our eldest lady was in Junior Infants and I was eager to find a way to settle into the village and make it a place to call home. Our families both live a long way from us so we had to take it upon ourselves to build up a network of friends, because I can tell you, once you get to four kids, it takes a village to raise them (and a vineyard, don’t judge!).

The nice thing about being involved in a PA is that it is voluntary and the people who get involved are willing and eager to give up their hard-earned free time, which could easily be filled with a million other equally important things to be done.

When you surround yourself with people who are willing to spare a few hours to do things selflessly for other people and other people’s children, you know you are in the company of decent people. And that has certainly been my experience, the people I’ve met are the first people I could call if I was running late to collect a child or if we were away and my parents needed a hand juggling all the activities.

The last thing I will say about the PA is that it has given me such a valuable connection to the school. If I ever have a query or a problem, I know the school is only a phone call away, it is so much easier to phone when you know the people at the other end of the line are welcoming and know you.

As we near the end of the school year, the first full school year in three years, it is worth giving teachers a few paragraphs of praise. 

We all have a different view on schools and teachers, it probably depends on both our own personal experience with education and the experience of our children, which can have its ups and downs.

My experience with education has always been positive. I grew up in a house where my mum was a teacher and then principal, so I saw first hand the hard work, energy and dedication that goes into teaching and nurturing other people’s children.

I also stayed in education until I was 27 years old, going on to do a doctorate, I loved learning and I also always loved being around people whose natural inclination is to help and encourage others to reach their potential.

I have huge respect for the massive amount of energy and patience that is required to be a teacher. I find it tiring and I only have four little people to mind.

Many years ago, my mother was stuck for a sub and asked me to step into the fray at the last minute, and I can tell you, if you ever want to appreciate what teachers do, step into a class of 30 children for a day. There were so many different personalities, different complexities, it gave me the utmost respect for what goes on inside the door of a classroom; it is certainly not something I would be able to do.

I know everyone has different opinions on getting teachers gifts at the end of the year but I love to do it just to show my appreciation for the kindness they have shown my girls throughout the year. The last few years I have called in my trusty Cricut machine to help personalise a few gifts. This year, I am personalising canvas tote bags, which should hopefully come in useful for the teachers when carrying lunchboxes and folders in and out of school. In previous years, I have gotten them a voucher for a local coffee shop, which is a nice one - it supports a local business and every teacher can get use out of it because everyone either loves coffee or cake!

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