By Ken Kelly
The school year in St. Augustine’s NS in Clontuskert finished with several accolades being showered on the teachers and the 38 pupils.
The Head of Microsoft Ireland and Microsoft Corporation, Dr. Kevin Marshall, praised the school for becoming the first in Ireland to create Chekhov eBooks in Irish and congratulated the principal Kate Murray on being awarded the inaugural Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator Fellow Award for the Republic of Ireland.
In an open schools’ competition, St. Augustine's came out on top from 24 local schools who were invited to submit a history and presentation on World War 1 by the organising Heritage Group.
They won the plaudits of the three judges and staged their presentation at an open night in Gullane’s Hotel. To round off a hectic year’s activities, the Clontuskert school hosted thirty students and teachers from France, Spain and England, culminating in a Community celebration night in the school hall, where the local students performed a concert to celebrate the two year partnership of the Comenius project. At a “Red Letter Day” in the school, Microsoft’s Dr. Kevin Marshall said St. Augustine’s had “led the way in primary school one to one technology integration in Ireland” while TD and former school principal, Mary Mitchell O’Connor said she was “blown away by the wonderful, innovative work of the pupils and I congratulate St. Augustine’s on being a school of excellence.”
Microsoft had presented each student with a Surface Device, which is a hybrid tablet with keyboard and pen that gives the pupils an outlet to write, code and create. As part of the celebrations the children presented their work on Chekhov Story author and the Literacy for Life Initiative. They are now the first school in Ireland to create Chekhov eBooks in Irish while Principal Kate Murray is one of twelve Expert Educators from around the world who have worked and designed new models of learning that better prepare learners for life in the 21st century.
In a separate function, there was “standing room only” in the school hall where teachers and students from schools in the UK, France and Spain were entertained to mark the end of a two year Comenius project. In recent years students and teachers from the Clontuskert school traveled to each of the above countries to learn more about their cultures and education. The visitors were also treated to a walking tour of Ballinasloe town as well as visiting places of historical interest in the locality. Under the guidance of principal Kate Murray, fellow teachers Emil Scott, Nicola Egan and Colette Baynes are basking in the glory of the school’s unique successes during the last year. And rightly so!
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