A former teacher at Inis Cealtra National School in Mountshannon, Co. Clare, has been named on the shortlist for the inaugural Teacher Inspire Ireland initiative.
The initiative, which is focused on highlighting the enormous contribution made by teachers in Irish society, was launched by Dublin City University (DCU) earlier this year, with the support of businessman and philanthropist Dermot Desmond.
Over May and June, DCU called for members of the public to share their personal stories of how a teacher transformed their lives and / or their community. Twenty shortlisted teachers – five from each province – have been shortlisted from over 400 entries received from every corner of Ireland. None of the teachers knew they were nominated in advance.
Jim Collins is a native of Scariff and was nominated by past pupil Roisin Bugler from Mountshannon, who attended the school in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In Roisin’s nomination, she commended Mr. Collins for encouraging his pupils to pursue science experiments, grow their own vegetables and flowers, set up savings accounts, and participate in exchanges with his former school in Dublin (“exchanges between the Clare culchies and the Dublin jackeens”). She also credits him as the driving force behind Scariff Bay Community Radio.
Announcing the shortlist at DCU earlier this week, Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU, said: “The entries submitted to Teachers Inspire Ireland demonstrate just how significant a role teachers play in Irish life.
“We received stories about teachers dealing in an inspirational way with major societal challenges. We received stories of teachers who have played – and continue to play – a key part in helping individuals and whole communities adapt to change.
“The nominations highlighted teachers dealing with issues such as homelessness, mental health, immigration, unplanned pregnancies, gender identity support, community regeneration, and climate change. They were submitted by schoolchildren, parents, and people whose schooldays are long behind them but who remember their teachers with great fondness and gratitude.
“What is abundantly clear from the nominations received is the extent to which so many teachers go above and beyond their ‘job description’. It was extraordinarily difficult to select a shortlist of 20 from all the amazing stories we received. However, the 20 teachers being celebrated today have had truly lasting and transformative impacts on the lives of their students and on their wider communities.”
Entries to Teachers Inspire were reviewed by a panel chaired by former President of Ireland Mary McAleese. A Teachers Inspire Ireland gala event will take place at The Helix, DCU, on Friday, 4th October, at which four of the shortlisted teachers – one from each province – will receive the inaugural Teachers Inspire Ireland Desmond Awards.