Sponsored: See All St John’s Parochial School Can Offer This Week

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Teacher Patricia Fitzell (top right) and SNA June Noonan (top left) with pupils in St John’s Parochial School. Photo by Dermot Crean

PARENTS of young children starting school this September have a big decision to make over the coming months and a little school in the town centre is hoping they can help them make up their minds next week.

St John’s Parochial School, located off Ashe Street adjacent to St John’s Church of Ireland, are currently welcoming people to their Open Week running up to and including Friday, between 8.40am and 2.30pm.

And they have so much to offer as we found out when we called to see Principal Aoife Benton recently.

“We have a whole week where we can welcome parents and children, they can walk around the school and get a feel for it and what goes on here,” she said. “It’s a very difficult time for parents because picking the right school to suit their child’s needs is such a big decision. I can meet them to explain all we have to offer here.”

Principal Aoife Benton and teacher Maura O’Doherty in class at St John’s Parochial School. Photo by Dermot Crean

“A major difference between us and other schools in the area is that we’re a considerably smaller. We have two classrooms — the juniors to second class in one room and third to sixth in the other.”

Aoife will explain to parents how this can work to the advantage of the children, especially through repetition which the teachers have found greatly helps the pupils learn more quickly.

Being a small school, there is also a lovely atmosphere among the families of the pupils, with an informal parents’ coffee morning at the start of the school year helping to forge new friendships.

Giving the pupils responsibility is very important and the student council organises various events for the children. They take their roles very seriously as they are voted for by their peers, as is the ‘Green Schools’ committee.

“Being a small school, we find the older children take ownership of their responsibility and mind the younger children. If a junior infant was to fall in the playground, a child from the senior class will be on the scene immediately to help them, even before the teacher gets there! They all look out for each other,” said Aoife.

Physical activity is taken seriously too at St John’s with a football coach coming to the school every week and they are starting swimming lessons for the children next month, among other activities.

The school has made great investments in technology over the past few years with tablets, laptops and new whiteboards which makes a huge difference in the classroom.

A huge advantage for the school is its location. They have the Town Park, Kerry County Museum, Siamsa Tíre, Tralee Library and more on their doorstep, which cuts out the costs of hiring a bus.

They also have a school garden which will be a hive of activity in the spring and the children love the process of planting and watching its progress.

There’s also a multi-sensory room where children can take a break from the hectic day at school, to reset in a calming atmosphere.

While many people may think of St John’s as a Church of Ireland school, Aoife is keen to stress that they welcome children of all faiths and none, with communion and confirmation provided for children of a catholic background.

So next week, you can drop in anytime between 8.40am and 2.30pm. You can call in advance on 066-718142 or email jschooltralee@gmail.com

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