Blennerville School Says Au Revoir Rather Than Goodbye To Principal Terry

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Outgoing Principal of St Brendan’s NS Blennerville with Fr Francis Nolan and Chairperson of the Board of Management, Fred Garvey, outside the school on Wednesday. Photo by Dermot Crean

IT’S been an emotional week all-round at St Brendan’s NS in Blennerville.

The sixth years had a graduation ceremony on Tuesday night, but on Wednesday a special ceremony was held to mark the departure of Principal Terry O’Sullivan.

The 36 year old man from Keel is taking a break from the school to take up his new role as Director of the Education Centre in Tralee on a five year term, after which he will return to Blennerville.

He will be managing the professional development of all primary and secondary school teachers in the county, taking over from CaitrĂ­ona NĂ­ Chullota who has been in that role for around 25 years.

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“It’s a great opportunity, but I’ll certainly miss being here as this is where my heart is,” said Terry, speaking to after the celebration.

He arrived in September 2011, taking over from Mike O’Connor, and has overseen the biggest changes in the school’s history with the construction of the new school building.

“We turned the sod in November 2014 and moved in in 2016, which was a huge development in my time here. The teaching staff here have been fantastic. All the changes over the years wouldn’t have been possible without them buying into it,” he added.

A Mass was celebrated with all pupils attending and tributes were paid by Fr Francis Nolan and the Chairperson of the Board of Management, Fred Garvey.

Terry addressed the pupils and staff and thanked all for their support over the years.

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“It’s an emotional day for me as I’ve been here for seven years. It’s been a very happy seven years. A lot of hard work has gone into it and I want to thank everyone who has contributed, especially the staff, the boys and girls, the parents association and the board of management. They took a gamble on a 29 year old back then and I hope it’s paid off. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart and I wish you good luck in the coming years.”

Chairperson of the Board of Management, Fred Garvey said; “I can say how proud we are, as a board, that we selected Terry O’Sullivan to be our principal. He was an excellent choice. He was instrumental in helping to secure the new school and he has brought it to where it is today. We are very sorry to see him go, but it is a great honour that our principal was selected for his new role.”

One of the principal’s greatest legacies is the pioneering programme relating to mobile phone use, inside and outside of school, which has received national attention.

Back in April, the school, with the co-operation of parents of sixth class pupils, instigated an initiative where parents were encouraged not to allow the children use their smartphones or go on social media until the end of the school year.

“It wasn’t a ban, the key was consultation with parents. We can’t enforce a ban outside of school, that’s a parenting issue. What we did was work with them and suggested that the children not use the phones. The difference during that 11 weeks was phenomenal. They were back to being kids again and were much easier to teach.”

He is going to stay onboard with this digital safety initiative and will work with teachers and principals in schools across Kerry in his new role.

In Blennerville, the initiative will be rolled out to all classes in September with a view to parents being asked to take a pledge to not buy a smartphone for their child while they are in primary school and not allow them access to social media.

It’s an issue Terry feels passionate about and he hopes that the programme takes hold on a national level. He leaves a great legacy in Blennerville and no doubt will come back in five years armed with innovative new ideas for the next set of pupils.

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