Letter from the Principal, 3rd April:
I wrote my last letter to you just before last Friday’s stricter regulations came into being.
Life is getting more and more strange for us and yet we are all coping with it and becoming used to our new routines. We will never ever forget these days as they will be etched in our memory.
I continue to be so delighted with our students’ work ethic and how well they have managed and applied themselves to learning online. Who would ever have said we would all have managed the changeover in such a short time! It is back to this idea I mentioned in my last letter to you of human resilience.
Thank you to you, the parents who are supporting your daughters and your families so well during this time. It is not easy and it does test our human endurance. I want to especially thank you for your lovely emails and letters of thanks to me and the wonderful staff of St Dominic’s College. They are much appreciated and they help lift the spirits of the teachers and other staff from day to day. So thank you for taking the time to write to us.
I would like to acknowledge the great team that work in St Dominic’s College. The teachers are a very professional group of people who have your daughter’s wellbeing and academic education at heart. They do this while balancing their own lives at home in these tough days. Some have very young children, some have busy households of teenagers, some look after elderly parents and some are coping with illness in their houses. Just like all of you everyone has difficulties and yet we all do our best to overcome these obstacles to do the right thing. Thank you also to the team of SNAs who are checking in with students also.
I would like to thank and acknowledge the work of other staff too. Katie our Librarian has been busy making amazing resources available to all of the students and to the teachers for teaching support resources. This work has really helped students with their own creativity and now they go looking for new reading material which is free to them.
Thank you to Chris and Paddy who are minding the campus, cutting the grass and keeping it looking fabulous as the flowers come out to bloom. Thank you to all the admin staff Patsy, Karen and Elise who are keeping things ticking over and supporting me every day in my work. Brendan, our IT back up person keeps in touch with me and helps resolves any problems we meet. Best wishes to our Chaplains, Sr Suzi and to Sr Odhran also. Best wishes to the cleaning and canteen staff also.
The Easter holidays will begin on Monday. I strongly advise the whole school community to now take a well-earned rest. Do not underestimate the immense work that has been done over the last three weeks. It is important to have a work life balance so I have asked teachers to give students a break from work for the two weeks and I have asked students to give teachers their well-earned rest also until Monday 20th April.
Teachers may on occasion check in with exam classes but many of them will also assign work to exam classes to allow them work ahead. In order for students to still feel busy and occupied we have compiled a Wellbeing pack for all students and indeed for your whole family. It consists of games, quizzes, links to music, links to art, competitions, gaming, mindfulness, brain training, online games, physical activities, family activities, a section for parents, reading and writing activities, recipes and lots more. Students have all received a link to this St Dominic’s Wellbeing Pack in my Friday morning email. There is enough to keep everyone going well over Easter and longer if necessary.
I had great support in compiling this Wellbeing Pack. Mr Murphy coordinated the whole pack and he was helped by a great team who sent him resources with our students and your whole family in mind. I hope the whole family will enjoy it very much. I have given all the students and teachers a link to the Wellbeing pack and here is a link to it for you to use.
I will keep in touch with you and inform you of any further notifications from the Department of Education. I want to wish you and your families a very happy Easter. I wish you strength to deal with what is ahead of all of us. If I can be of support to anyone please do not hesitate to contact me. I have a wonderful team with me to support you and your daughters.
‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’. This lovely seanfhocal, or old Irish proverb says that ‘together we are strong’.
Guím beannachtaí na Cásca oraibh go léir. This Irish greeting wishes you all a very happy Easter.
Is mise, le meas,
Ann Cameron, Principal
Letter from the Principal, 25th March:
I hope this letter finds you well and coping as best you can with this unprecedented national and global situation. One month ago very few of us could have imagined a world like the one in which we now live. We are all adjusting and learning as we go along. This is a huge learning curve for every citizen both young and old.
It does remind me, as I have told the students, of the old saying that we have heard many times, that when the going gets tough the tough get going! We are going to have to become more resilient as this situation gets worse before it gets better. It is a fact that many of us and our loved ones will contract this virus and we must support each other when that happens. I am already hearing stories from our wider school community about people becoming ill with the virus.
With regard to your daughter’s education I hope that you are aware of the work going on to keep students learning. Teachers have made huge effort and progress in learning to teach on teaching platforms such as Google classroom, that some of them never used in their careers before. We have email now as the main form of communication between teachers and students. Thankfully we had been working for a few months on getting each student set up with a school email address rather than use their own private email address for school business. I was planning the roll out of this with no knowledge of the Covid-19 virus so thankfully that worked out well and in time for the school break up on Friday 13th March.
Each morning I email all members of the school community, students, teachers and other staff, with general information and words I hope will inspire and motivate them to continue to do their best. These emails are an important part of how we as a school communicate with each other for now. This message to you, the parents, is to involve you in this communication and to let you know what is happening. We value all you are doing also to support your families and to support us as a school community with the education of your daughters under very difficult circumstances.
A good idea for students is to follow their school timetable and work at the subjects according to this and I have emailed all these suggestions to students already. All teachers have engaged with their students regarding work. Please check that your daughter has opened her email account and is working away. We have a small number of students who seem to be having problems in this regard, however out of the 805 students most are up and running.
Students and teachers may feel overwhelmed and I have spoken to both groups to be mindful of a measured approach to work. You have a very dedicated teaching staff in St Dominic’s College who care very much about your daughters. Please support them and check in on your daughter’s learning and progress. I have also asked students and teachers to observe as far as possible school hours for doing school work as there has to be a balance for all our wellbeing.
Our students have risen to the challenge as I knew that would. I would like to thank our students and many of you parents for the lovely emails that you have sent to me complementing what we, as a school community have done in the last week or so for your daughters. I keep telling the students that this situation we find ourselves in, will pass like everything else does. What is important is that they support you as parents in your homes and that they help you and their siblings as much as they can.
As principal of St Dominic’s College I am so proud of our school community. As the leader of the school I set out what I believe were our educational, moral and human expectations to both students and staff on the Friday after we finished school. I can say nothing but positive things about our students, teachers and ancillary staff’s attitude to all that I have asked of them. Teachers who didn’t use email much a week ago are now teaching on Google Classroom. Students who didn’t engage with their lessons on occasions in school are emailing me to see if they get their books out of their lockers. So human nature has this ability to adapt.
Human nature is very resilient; we know this from history but until events like this come to our door we don’t know how we will react. Many young people of course do not know what to do in situations like this and that’s where our moral and human advice as well as our life experience comes in. Yet when we show them what should be done, they, as a generation, are resilient, creative and simply amazing. We need to see this, so that we know they will have the skills in years to come to be teachers, principals, medical staff, government ministers, supermarket managers, etc. in the front line of the next pandemic or major event leading others to safety. It is all about passing on the skills of coping to this generation and the next one to get us through this awful time and come out the other side.
As parents it’s not easy. I love the way at home people are back playing board games, cards, charades etc. There is so much fun in these activities. Fun is a key factor in all our lives. Take time away from chores if you can to sit and talk to your children now and again and let them know that it is important to have fun, in the real sense of what that means with those around them.
The Board of Management, the Deputy Principals, some ancillary staff and I are keeping the ordinary business of the school going as much as we can. I know some people would ideally like to meet with teachers, year heads, coordinators, the deputy principals or myself about issues they are concerned about but all of this can happen when it is safe to do so when school resumes, whenever that may be, as school closure was extended yesterday to 19th April 2020.
For now I wish you health and strength to deal with whatever comes your way. Mind yourselves well.
Is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann daoine. This beautiful old Irish seanfhocal or proverb loosely translates to: We all live by depending on each other.
Is mise, le meas,
Text message from Principal Ann Cameron to parents, 12th March
Dear Parents, as you will be aware schools will close Thursday at 6pm until the 29th March. Work has been assigned in all subjects to your daughter in written form, email and other digital means. We have been preparing for this for weeks. The school will be in touch with you by text during this time. Please check the website for information and announcements. Best wishes to you all in the difficult days ahead. Ms. A. Cameron, Principal.