The Department of Education selected Castleisland Community College to present to the Minister of Education Norma Foley, TD recently.
The school has taken many initiatives over the years that address sustainability and climate action and it was singled out for these reasons.
Staff and students, along with Minister Foley and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) took part in a virtual class for the world’s largest lesson.
Sustainable Development Goals
The event sees millions of children around the world learning about Sustainable Development Goals.
Sustainability is a core element to the new Junior Cycle and its subjects and the school has excelled in implementing these goals.
It has given students an in depth knowledge of sustainability which certainly helps in preparing for the Junior Cycle subject examinations.
Students and Teachers
Students from the school joined Principal,Teresa Lonergan with teachers, Doreen Killington and Elaine Murphy in the presentations to the minister.
Ann O’Dwyer of Kerry ETB and Gerard Quirke, a senior inspector at the Department of Education and representatives from UNICEF were present as panelists.
Lauren O’Sullivan began the presentations from the school and she explained how the road to becoming a more sustainable school began with the introduction of the Green School Programme by Doreen Killington.
Many Different Projects
Ruairí Mannix and Shauna O’Keeffe also spoke about the many different projects that have been undertaken by the school over the years like: Planet Savers; Water Explorers and Global Gang.
The projects have won national awards in the Young Social Innovators Competition, Eco United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Environmental Competition, Garda Youth Achievement Awards and Tidy Towns.
Environmental projects have also won Kerry Enterprise Awards and the National Sophia Physics Competition.
Miriam O’Connell and Katelyn O’Keeffe presented about the very successful Fairtrade Project, which received several national awards.
The Climate Crew
This year’s Eco UNESCO national finalists, the Climate Crew spoke about the initiatives undertaken in relation to biodiversity.
The national winners of A Home for Everyone, Celia McMahon, Rachel Murphy and Sarah O’ Connor spoke about their house design, which had sustainability as a core element.
Tommy Walsh and Caitlin Roche from first year spoke about the Negotiated Integrated Curriculum which saw them research about climate change.
Finally, Danielle Flynn and David Peskett concluded the students’ presentations talking about the Global Air Quality Project and future plans.
Teachers Take a Bow
Doreen Killington spoke about her motivation for addressing climate change as she had worked for two years in Nicaragua and witnessed the exploitation of coffee farmers.
She had also worked in Uganda, Kenya and Mozambique and witnessed the hunger caused by climate change as ‘the rains didn’t come, crops didn’t grow and families had no food,’
She spoke about how she wanted to show students how they can take action – ‘they have the power to make a difference.’
Elaine Murphy spoke about the personal growth and development for the students who have taken part in the projects with regard to e.g. leadership, teamwork, presentation skills and IT skills.
Gerard Quirke a senior inspector from the Department of Education complemented the two teachers on their work and described them as two inspiring educators.
Principal Lonergan – The Approach to Sustainability
Principal Teresa Lonergan explained the whole school approach to sustainability and how it’s embedded into all aspects of school life from governance, to teaching and learning to linking with the local community where we all have a shared vision for a more environmentally friendly society.’
Norma Foley praised the school for how it has implemented sustainability very successfully into the school.
Pride in Being Chosen
She revealed her immense pride that the school chosen this year by the Department of Education to meet with the minister was from her own constituency.
She acknowledged the work and leadership of the two teachers involved, Doreen Killington and Elaine Murphy.
She also thanked the entire school community and praised the fact that it has built bridges with the local community and she hopes to have an opportunity in the future to visit the school.
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