Cecelia Gavigan, a teacher at Balbriggan Educate Together National School, who is originally from Tyrrellspass, has been named Teacher of the Year at this year’s prestigious Our World Irish Aid Awards.
The announcement was made by Minister for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciarán Cannon, T.D., at today’s national final held at Dublin Castle, much to the delight of Cecelia’s pupils and colleagues.
Cecelia has been teaching at Balbriggan Educate Together NS since graduating from St Patrick’s College (now known as DCU Institute of Education).
Her award is recognition of the quality of her class group’s submission this year, and of the effort she has put into teaching her students about the important work of Irish Aid, as well as the energy and creativity that she has invested in the Our World Irish Aid Awards over the last four years.
The school’s project – ‘Raising Awareness and Taking Action on the Global Goals’ – was a comprehensive entry centred on UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) through work on plastic and fast fashion and SDG 13 (Climate Action).
Cecelia’s class looked at two countries in particular: Uganda and Vietnam.
They created posters and business cards and undertook peer teaching in their school.
They also created a video to show their community, emailed TDs, MEPs and their county council, wrote a press release and distributed it to news websites and created posts for their own school website.
The group also staged a puppet show for the younger classes in their school to highlight how life for children in other countries is similar to that of Irish children and how, by 2030, life could be even better for us all.
Finally, the group created a rap and designed numerous posters that displayed their research and the issues affecting Irish Aid’s partner countries.
Congratulating Ms Gavigan on winning the Teacher of the Year Award, Minister for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciarán Cannon, TD, said: “The judges felt that Cecelia’s class group submitted an excellent project that showed an impressive understanding of a range of global challenges and how these challenges specifically affect developing countries.
“They also felt that the pupils came up with good ideas for reducing waste and the use of plastic and communicated them well to their community.
“It is clear to me that the learning from the Our World Irish Aid Awards activities this year has had a significant impact on Balbriggan Educate Together NS and on their wider community.
“This is something that can only happen through sustained and dedicated effort and I would therefore like to applaud Cecelia Gavigan and her group of fifth class pupils for all of the time and energy they invested not just in their awards entry, but also in raising awareness of the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development inside and outside the classroom.”
Two other awards were announced at the national final, yesterday. The award for Best Newcomer School was presented to Scoil Choilm Community National School, Clonsilla while St. Mary’s Convent Primary School, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary were named overall winners.
Now in its 13th year, the Our World Irish Aid Awards teaching and learning materials help primary school pupils all over Ireland learn about the lives of children and their families in developing countries, and how Ireland and 192 other countries are working together to create a safer and fairer world and a better future for all through the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
This year, the awards attracted entries from right across Ireland and were framed around the theme of ‘Transforming Our World’, reflecting all of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The projects also highlighted the role that education can play in making a positive difference to the lives of people in developing countries, as well as here at home.
Each entry was assessed on its creativity and understanding of the theme Transforming Our World.
The first round of judging resulted in a shortlist of 60 schools at four regional finals held in Sligo, Dublin, Limerick and Cork.
The 60 schools competed for 12 places at the national final.
Yesterday marked the culmination of the final judging process which led to the selection of an overall winner, best newcomer and teacher of the year.
All 12 schools at the national final were also presented with a national finalists trophy.