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Alumni profile

Sarah McCormack

PME in Post-Primary Education



Scoil Mhuire Strokestown, Co. Roscommon


BA English & Geography, MSc Climate Change


Hibernia College Student of the Year Award

Why did you choose teaching and why Hibernia College?

My desire to teach was largely shaped through my own school experiences. I was fortunate to have a few teachers who went above and beyond to get the best from their students and showed a genuine interest in what they were teaching. For me, these positive student/teacher relationships remained with me long after I left the classroom behind. I think it was these memories that ignited in me a desire to emulate similar experiences for younger generations. I want to be a positive influence and role model for the students in my care. It also helped that I loved studying English and Geography and felt I could translate my enthusiasm and passion for both disciples into a positive teaching and learning experience.

I chose Hibernia College as I live in Roscommon and did not want to relocate. Hibernia offered me the perfect solution, through its blended learning model.

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

After my Leaving Cert, I studied English and Geography at NUI Galway. Following this, I undertook a Master of Science in Climate Change at NUI Maynooth. On completion of my master’s, I was lucky enough to secure an internship working with renewable energy in Nebraska USA. The internship afforded me many opportunities to further my understanding of the impacts of climate change and the necessity to embrace a sustainable future, which has ultimately helped me educate students in the classroom as well. I then spent some time living in Australia, before returning home and securing a job in retail banking. While I enjoyed my time in the corporate world, my heart was never in it, and it prompted me to consider what I wanted to do in life. While it may have taken me some time to reach the decision to pursue teaching, I believe the life experiences I gained along the way have only positively contributed to me as an educator.

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

My research project aimed to address the issue of inclusion for ethnic minority students in the post-primary classroom. Irish society has altered significantly in recent decades owing to rapid immigration — a fact that became clearly evident during my school placement experiences. I wanted to investigate what practices and policies not only existed but could be practically applied to help integrate and include minority learners in school communities. I found the research extremely eye-opening, and it ultimately impacted my understanding of the role of a teacher, whose remit extends far beyond the reaches of the curriculum.

Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?

I am extremely fortunate to be working in a post-primary school close to where I live. I predominantly teach English, across all years and levels. I am fully immersed in school life at the moment, and I am trying to embrace every opportunity that comes my way. The transition from student to teacher is undoubtedly a challenge, to begin with, but the satisfaction and enjoyment I get from the day-to-day life at school make it worth it! I am also going through the Droichead process, and I am lucky to have the support of fantastic colleagues and a Professional Support Team.

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

My advice would be if teaching is something that you have always felt drawn to, follow your instincts and do it. For me, the prospect of leaving a permanent job and returning to full-time study, and the uncertainty that comes with that, held me back initially from taking the first step and applying for the PME. However, it is a decision I haven’t regretted for a single second. The PME is by no means an easy course, but if it is something you genuinely want, it is definitely manageable. The 24 months may initially feel long, but they passed in the blink of an eye. So enjoy the experience!

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