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Celebrate Good Times!

By: MAIRE CORBETT

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Sitting in the function room at The Alex in Dublin city centre last Friday night at the Annual Early Childhood Ireland Awards was an amazing feeling. The words of that song, 'celebrate good times, come on!' kept ringing in my ears as I reflected on the talent, passion, commitment and dedication of the people in the room, not to mention the glitz and glamour!

A few weeks ago, as my colleagues and I shortlisted awards such as Learning Stories, Inspired Practice, and the submissions for Educator of the Year, I was struck anew by how lucky the children in these amazing settings are. They are supported at the start of their learning journeys by these consummate professionals, as we saw in the testimonials before us. The people who took time to nominate colleagues for the Educator award portrayed women who go above and beyond the call of duty to support students, colleagues, parents, and families in their communities. This kind of dedication deserves to be celebrated. We saw deep learning portrayed in the Learning Stories and captured and conveyed beautifully to parents, inspectors and other stakeholders. The beauty of Learning Stories is that they encapsulate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions we see in children. They capture the knowledge children bring from their homes and families and share proudly yet unconsciously with us, when we are open to see it. We see the skills children develop in leadership, building relationships, supporting their friends, helping new children settle in, and their growing awareness of sustainability and being citizens.

Early Childhood Ireland National Awards 2019 - Celebrate Good Times!

The sense of anticipation grew as the evening progressed. Finally, Keelin Shanley took to the stage to announce the shortlisted people and the ultimate winners. The sense of pride and achievement in the room was palpable.

We warmly congratulate this year's winners, as well as the runners up in all categories, and the Síolta-validated settings:

Learning Story Award winner: Our Preschool Castle - Rainbows Preschool, Co. Cork
In this story, children explored ideas of planning permission, construction, engineering, architecture, culture and history. It is a story of creative experiences for children, leading to their reflection on historical times in their local area.

Inspired Practice Award winner: Paw Poo Patrol - The ABC Club, Meath
The concept of young children as citizens with rights is promoted throughout the early years sector. The newly-formed Paw Poo Patrol in the town of Dunboyne is an example of active citizenship. Paw Poo Patrol became influencers, gaining admirers and followers within their community and beyond. 

Partnership with Families Innovation Award winner: Beverton Preschool and Roots & Wings 
Beverton Preschool and Roots & Wings developed key worker dolls (dolls representing each key worker) to foster communication and connections between home and crèche.  The dolls go home with the children, which in turn allows parents and families to enquire about their day in a non-invasive way.

LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion winner: Playmates Preschool
Playmates Preschool provides opportunities for every child and family to be listened to and included. They also introduced a distributed leadership model in the setting, providing an opportunity for all staff to voice their ideas.

Educator of the Year award winner: Kathleen Cash, Tir na nÓg, Athy, Co. Kildare
Kathleen Cash was selected as Educator of the Year 2019. She devotes much of her time and energy to creating welcoming environments with quality experiences for children and families in Tir na nÓg, and to creating a warm and supportive work environment in which the team can flourish as professionals.

Winner of Early Childhood Ireland's Educator of the Year 2019 - Celebrate Good Times!

Party on everyone - this week, celebrate in your settings and bask in the glow of success!

 

Bio: 
Máire Corbett is an Early Childhood Specialist at Early Childhood Ireland. She trained in Montessori teaching and has completed an MA in Integrated Provision for Children and Families with the University of Leicester at Pen Green.

"Visiting member settings inspires me as I see the passion and energy educators put into providing great experiences for the children in their settings. I love seeing competent children at play!"

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