It was a landmark occasion for all those associated with Athlone Education Centre on Thursday morning last as a new extension at the facility, located on the Moydrum Road, was officially opened by Minister for Education and Skills, Jim McHugh TD.
One of a network of 21 full-time and nine part-time Education Centres located across the country, Athlone Education Centre, in its primary role, acts as a pathway for the provision of professional learning opportunities to answer the systemic needs of the Department of Education and Skills (DES ).
Speaking at the official opening, Ms. Dolores Killian, Chairperson, Athlone Education Centre, noted the prestigious occasion of the day as she welcomed the various dignitaries to the formal ceremony.
“For the past seventeen years, Athlone Education Centre has been a very positive influence on my work as a teacher at An Grianán NS, Mount Temple. Over the last number of years that I have served on the committee I have become aware of the value of the Centre to the local education community. As vice-chair this became even more apparent. However, it is in the past year, in my role as Acting Chair and Chairperson I have become aware of the huge complexities involved in the normal, day-to-day running of the Centre,” Dolores remarked.
Noting that the Centre is a key provider of professional learning opportunities in the education sphere, the Chairperson lauded the facility’s attributes in detail.
“If one visits, or utilises the services of the Centre, it quickly becomes evident that we, in Athlone Education Centre add value to the education system at large, by the extended range of services and supports provided,” Dolores emphasised.
Dolores paid tribute to the Athlone Education Centre and Management committee members, both past and present, whose sole focus is to ensure the facility meets the necessary criteria and reporting functions for the Department of Education and Skills.
The committee meets on a monthly basis to discuss, collaborate, analyse, debate, suggest, identify and decide on how the Centre should move forward in a myriad of different situations. There are sub-committees that examine and report on finance, HR and buildings, as necessary. Each member of the committee brings their own perspective to their position, plus they bring a wealth of experience to the Management committee from their own career trajectory, some at the early stages of their career and some who have recently retired.
“The composition of the committee ensures that a broad spectrum of contributing voices play an active part in shaping the work of the Centre. The contract for the new extension was signed on the June 6, 2017, and was in full use by early 2018. This is testament to the efficiency of the outgoing Management committee led by Dr. Frank Walsh and the former Chairperson, my predecessor Oliver Keating who served for twenty years on the Management committee. To my colleagues on the Management committee I express my thanks for your continued dedication and support,” Dolores concluded.
Former Director of Athlone Ediucation Centre, Dr. Frank Walsh was further effusive in his praise of the Management committee has they guided the project to its fruition.
“Education Centres play a pivotal role for local schools and the wider education community in mediating curricular change, and also developing and improving the professional skills of those responsible for educating the future citizens of Ireland.
“Whilst wellbeing was a welcome addition to the curriculum, we should be cognisant of the many changes that have occurred in schools and the increasing workload of teachers. We must examine teacher wellbeing in a meaningful manner, with correct structures and supports in place,” Dr. Walsh commented.
The former Director noted the professional relationships built, nurtured and developed with the four special schools, 23 post primary schools and 174 primary schools which come under the Athlone Education Centre catchment area.
“It is the local support, understanding and relationships developed that ensures Athlone Education Centre remains a key focal point on the local educational landscape,” Dr. Walsh reiterated.