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Alumni profile

Mary Collins

PME in Primary Education



Threen National School


Bachelor of Commerce, a Master of Business Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health and Safety


Hibernia College Research Prize

Why did you choose teaching and why Hibernia College?

When my two daughters were born, I became increasingly amazed at their capacity to learn. I began to appreciate the importance of supporting children in developing their academic and social skills from an early age. I felt drawn to working with children, and many of my close friends and family encouraged me to consider changing my career to become a teacher. I had heard about the Professional Master’s in Primary Education from Hibernia College and I met a number of excellent teachers who had come through that route and who wholeheartedly advised me to pursue it. Once I made the decision to apply to Hibernia, my life changed for the better, and I am over the moon that I completed the PMEP and have the opportunity to work with wonderful children.


What field of work or study were you in before you started your PME?

I completed a B. Comm and MBS and worked initially in Human Resource Management before completing a B. Sc (Environmental, Health and Safety) and forging a career as an EHS Manager with responsibility for sites in Ireland and UK. After nearly twenty years working in industry, I felt I wanted a change of career and pursued a more rewarding path of working with children. I feel so privileged and blessed to have been able to complete the PMEP and be teaching in a wonderful school.


Can you tell us a bit about your research project and why you focused on this area?

When I was completing my placements, I became particularly interested in children who were exceptionally able. There was always 1 or 2 in each class who completed their work very quickly and required additional work to keep them busy and prevent boredom. I began to ask the question ‘Are we doing enough to help these exceptionally able children reach their full potential?’ When I mentioned to a number of qualified teachers that I was interested in focussing on differentiation for exceptionally able children for my research project, the majority of the teachers reported that they were often a forgotten group of children. Teachers are so busy, due to class sizes and curriculum overload, that the exceptionally able child, quite often, does not get the attention they need.


Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?

I was extremely fortunate to get a fixed-term contract as a mainstream class teacher in a small rural school in County Roscommon. I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to work in the junior room with junior infants, senior infants, first and second class. It’s the most wonderful experience, and the joy I feel going into work every day simply confirms that I made the right choice to move into primary education. The staff are incredibly supportive and the children continue to amaze me every day.


What piece of advice would you give to any person considering starting a PME?

If you feel a real grá for working with children and supporting them to reach their full potential and develop into well-rounded citizens, then the PMEP is for you. It is a challenging course and you will need the support of family and friends. I would recommend engaging in all the on-site days and make friends with others in your cohort as their support will be invaluable. Enjoy every minute of it.

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