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The Awards!


Tuesday 22 May 2018

In April, Mag Coogan, Owner of the ABC Club in Dunboyne, Co. Meath, was the overall winner of the first ever Early Childhood Ireland Educator of the Year Award. Here’s what happened in the preschool the week after the Awards Ceremony!

Returning to The ABC Club on the Monday after winning the Educator of the Year Award, the staff team were doing show and tell with the children. The trophy featured in a big way! They each got a chance to hold the trophy and it went from shiny crystal to frosted crystal from the finger prints as quick as lightning. The staff team told the children how we all dressed in our nice dresses and got our hair and nails done, and some of us even put on makeup before we went to the ball. We told them how we got a bus and when we got to the Castle we had dinner served by waiters and waitresses and drank wine. Then there were the awards; Mag won and Lauren (one of the team) jumped up out of her seat screaming and everyone was clapping and Mag went on the stage to get the trophy. Then there was music and we danced all night. The children were enthralled and excited at the thoughts of us teachers being princesses (more like oul queens/stepmothers!) for a night.

Suddenly a voice pipes up "that’s not fair, we never get to go to a ball". Joan suggested we ask Mag (who was at AsIAm training) if we could have a ball one day to celebrate. We began by consulting with the parents if they would be okay with their children having their hair, nails, makeup, and tattoos done for a ball to celebrate. This wish was granted. We then consulted with the children about what they thought they needed to go to a ball. As you can imagine, the clothes were top priority followed by food, drink and dancing. We planned a week of preparation with the culmination being the ball.

The day of the ball arrived and the children arrived in their beautiful party dresses (the girls) and their suits/waistcoats and dicky bows (the boys) where they were whisked away to make appointments for their beauty pieces. They arrived on time for their appointments and the multi-tasking team accommodated all the children and turned them into princes and princesses. Meanwhile, the award winner was Cinderella in the kitchen doing the cooking! While the beautifying was finishing up, the table was being set with the red and cream table cloths, the cutlery and the glasses.

The children then had a fire drill and were evacuated from the building. After the drill was complete but before they went back indoors, they were given the invitations they had made. These had to be handed to the butler at the door for entry to the castle and they had their photo taken as they walked in. They chose their seats at the table and dinner was served by the waitresses; chicken nuggets, sausages and chips. There was a special treat of coke zero and diet 7up (red wine and white wine) followed by sugar free jelly and ice cream.

The dancing followed and the children strutted their stuff from Irish jigs to break dancing and don’t you just love the dab? Cinders had turned into Snow White at this stage for some reason and joined in the dancing while the waitress’ (Ugly sisters) did the washing up (Cinders got her own back!). One little girl with special needs obviously felt that she was being upstaged, so she took Snow White by the hand, took her off the dance floor and pushed her into a seat.

The award ceremony followed the dancing and each child had to climb on a bench (the stage) to receive their award for being one of the best children at The ABC Club and Lauren had to jump out of her chair screaming each time and everyone was clapping.

It was such a special day for the children and the staff team. They had as much fun at their awards ceremony as we had at Clontarf Castle. The next day, talking about the ceremony and awards, one child told us, You are the best teachers here in Ireland but not in the universe. When asked who are the best teachers in the universe, he replied, I don’t know but it’s not you! FEET are now FIRMLY ON THE GROUND, HEAD OUT OF THE CLOUDS!

Our celebrations as a team at the ECI awards ceremony became a celebration for the children as we listened to them and their ideas, followed their interests and put them into practice. We are now looking forward to having an awards ceremony with the parents on the 8th June, it won’t be a ball but I’m sure we’ll have one.

Thank you, Early Childhood Ireland, Toddle Box and Wesco for a great night and thank you to my amazing staff team Catherine, Joan, Antoinette, Áine, Patricia, Ruth and Lauren, without whom The ABC Club would not be an award winning early years’ service.

Thank you to the parents of The ABC Club who sponsored the children’s award ceremonies. You too are amazing.



The ABC Club was founded in January 1997 by Mag Coogan and Catherine Buggle. They started in a bedroom in Mags house with 4 children. That September they enrolled 12 and knew a bigger premises was required. The following September they opened in their current building and doubled their sessions to two per day. They now cater for 45 children over the two sessions. Mag became the sole trader but Catherine remains her right-hand woman. The team are proactive in moving with the times and with change. They are advocates for inclusive practice, outdoor play and partnership with parents.

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