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Alumni profile

Therese Barrett

PME in Primary Education



Scoil Niocláis


Bachelor of Commerce


Hibernia College Research Prize

Why did you choose teaching and why Hibernia College? 

What enticed me to teaching today is my children and their dedicated teachers. Everyone says a teacher from their primary school inspired them to want to become a teacher; in my case, it was the wonderful teachers that brightened up our daughter’s life in her darkest times. Our eldest daughter became seriously ill with leukaemia when she was just beginning Senior Infants and relapsed again in Sixth Class. She showed remarkable resilience and courage. Her illness did not define her; she was enabled to keep up with her learning in a different way, supported by her caring, compassionate and creative teachers. Thus, giving her a sense of purpose and hope in the process. I want to become a teacher who is compassionate, caring and dedicated to providing an environment full of opportunities for children to engage, learn and establish a process of enquiry no matter what circumstances they find themselves in life. Selecting Hibernia College to undertake the PME was the best option available to me. As a mother and a mature student, the course’s flexibility and the use of blended learning made it possible for me to balance my studies with taking care of my family.

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

I graduated with a BComm (Hons) in Marketing and Management from University College Cork. Before beginning the PME, I worked in the medical rehabilitation sector for 17 years, concentrating on paediatric sales and customer support. This role required providing product advice on rehabilitation medical products to occupational therapists, physiotherapists and client advocates to best meet their clients’ requirements. The role entailed building relationships with clients to conduct assessments to determine the correct product choice and options to meet the users’ needs.

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

My research project focused on restorative practices experienced in the primary school setting. Restorative practice is increasingly becoming embedded in school policies as an alternative approach to managing behaviour; people are encouraged to take responsibility for harm caused within a community, focusing on a restorative lens (resolve and repair) as opposed to a retributive lens (assign blame and punish). Restorative practice advocates certain shared values, such as integrity, respect, fairness, trust and tolerance, in order to form relationships, which in turn create a culture of inclusion and belonging. These principles personally align with my own values, which drew me to study the practices.

Now that you have graduated, what are your plans? 

I am now working full-time in a primary school close to where I live, teaching English as an additional language and providing special education for 19 Ukrainian children ranging in age from 6 years to 12 years. I find the role both challenging and most rewarding. The range of ages gives me the opportunity to teach English across the primary language curriculum while emphasising the apparent difficulties a language barrier imposes and the brave children’s past experiences. They are amazing children, and I feel privileged to teach and learn alongside them as I begin my career.

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

If I was just to offer one piece of advice, I would say take the workload one step at a time — do not overthink or worry about the assignments or placements in the future. Concentrate on what you can achieve each day and each week. It is a hard course, and you will have good days and bad days. Take all the support and help you are offered, especially within your tutor group. Lastly, believe in the power of ‘yet’ — don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know it…yet’. Take a deep breath, and realise you cannot know everything but you can find out when you need to.

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