Monday, May 17, 2010

Catholic School

My mom, who is visiting by the way, recently found out that my school is Catholic and chastised me for not telling her. Therefore, I thought I would describe it a bit:

Most schools in Ireland are private Catholic schools, run through the local parish. The teachers aren't nuns or anything though, just regular 'ol teachers. The kids say their prayers at the start and end of the day, and also before lunch time usually. They can say their prayers in Irish and in English :) They also have religion as a subject, but they don't learn it every day as they would Maths, English, and Irish. In addition, any upcoming events in the church that involve the children, such as confirmation or first communions, would be prepared for at the school. For example: when the 2nd class students were getting ready for their first communion, they practiced their songs and lines at school, and took a couple school field trips to the church in order to practice walking down to the altar and saying their parts. All of the students from 3rd class up also participated: they played musical instruments and sang in the "choir" during the first communion. It is common for the whole school to support students in these important milestone events.

In an average day at the school, school starts at 9:00 AM and ends at 2:40 PM. There is a small break at 10:45, and a big break at 12:30. The kids eat their lunch and play during both breaks, while the teachers congregate in the staff room for a "cuppa" and a chat. In general, the teachers are in charge of teaching extra-curricular subjects such as art, music, and p.e. However, outside teachers come in once-a-week for special classes. A music teacher comes in on Thursdays and an Irish dance teacher comes in on Tuesdays. Also, some lads from a local hurling club come in some days to work with the kids and teach them skills. They love this, and so do their teachers :) Often times, school sports matches such as hurling, football, or even swimming will be held during school hours and the participating students and teachers will leave on a bus during the day to go to their match. On these days, not much study is accomplished.

My school is very small compared to what I'm used to. There are about 140 students from the ages of 4 (junior infants) up to age 12 (6th class). There are 6 different classrooms and 6 different teachers for 8 grade levels. There are also a couple teachers that come into the school for learning support jobs, working with students with disabilities. The principal of the school teaches the 5th and 6th class students, along with performing her administrative duties. The teachers are all women, except for the brave 1st class teacher, Sean.

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