Malahide Portmarnock Educate Together Secondary School
Bachelor in Economic and Social Studies, Trinity College
Hibernia College Student of the Year Award
Why did you choose teaching and why Hibernia College?
As a busy mum of two young children, I was working flat out managing my own business in PR and Digital Marketing Consultancy. I wanted to have more time to be involved in my children’s school and after school life and set about thinking how I could make this happen. I have a lifelong love of learning and since graduating from BESS at Trinity College, I have returned to further education regularly to compete Diplomas in Software Engineering, Digital Marketing Consultancy as well as the Professional Master’s in Education. I really enjoy the company, enthusiasm and passionate ideas of young people, so teaching seemed like a perfect fit for me. Hibernia College, with its blended learning and digital platform was the only choice for me as it enabled me to juggle the demands of family life, while participating fully in the PME programme.
What field of work or study were you in before you started your PME?
I had managed my own business for several years, offering website design and digital marketing consultancy. Prior to this, I had also run my own company in sandwich manufacturing, which I sold before I had children. While working for yourself can be very rewarding, it is also a 24/7 job as you are the boss and there is no one to cover for you! Teaching and working the same hours as my children offered the perfect fit for family life. As I now teach Business and Economics, my own experience of being Managing Director of a busy company with 16 staff really brings the topic alive for my students, and they love hearing stories from my business days!
Can you tell us a bit about your research project and why you focused on this area?
In my previous career, I had worked in both software engineering and digital media consultancy, so IT has always been a big part of my life. The topic of the increased use of iPads in Irish schools has been raised in both research as well as media circles, so I decided to investigate the impact of one-to-one iPad use on teaching and learning. The impact of iPads in an educational setting is a new phenomenon and, as such, educators have yet to understand their long-term implications. However, communicating using digital platforms is here to stay and is used in every type of industry. iPads offer students and teachers a multitude of exciting opportunities to learn and develop, and students who are used to using such technologies in school will have a great advantage when they move on to 3rd level or the workplace.
Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?
I graduated during the first round of Ireland’s COVID-19 lockdown and was laughing with my family that no one could have predicted when I started the PME that the schools would be closed by the time I graduated! However, after browsing several potential job opportunities, I decided to apply for a position with a new Educate Together iPad school, where I am still working. The school has one of the most amazing teams I have ever had the pleasure to work with and I feel so lucky to be involved with a school from the beginning and to help shape it as it grows. We are currently planning our first ever transition year programme, and the excitement and fun all the staff are having in coming up with new and original ideas to help our students learn and grow is fantastic!
What piece of advice would you give to any person considering starting a PME?
I would strongly recommend that you volunteer in a school before committing to a PME. While teaching is a very rewarding and fun career for those who are suited to it, being an educator also involves a lot of work and long hours which many people are not aware of when starting out. I would like to add that I surprised even myself by how much I love and enjoy teaching and it brings to mind an old adage – do something you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life!