Welcome to St. Teresa’s Nursery School. This has been a quite extraordinary year in so many respects, but I feel especially honoured to lead our community and to play my role in ensuring that we continue to celebrate our distinguished history whilst working together to further develop and enhance this outstanding nursery, the ‘Butterfly School’ situated in the heart of West Belfast.
Whilst I do not want to dwell too much upon the unprecedented challenges of recent months, I do want to share with you my admiration for the courage and resilience that all members of this community have demonstrated of late. I chair the West Belfast Area Learning Community and work cooperatively with other Principals in our area to share good practice and ensure the highest education for all our little ‘Butterflies’.
As we now begin to emerge from the other side of this crisis, we do so in the sure knowledge that those bonds which have been forged in adversity have only served to enrich and intensify our relationships with one and other. We have inspired each other to live with hope and face the future in the sure knowledge that we will emerge from this in a stronger position than ever before. We have not simply survived; we have grown together and thrived together during these most testing of times.
The curricular changes to the Pre-School Guidance during the academic year 2018-19 have enabled us, throughout this period, to offer an educational offering which is the envy of most other nursery schools. We are Makaton Friendly, Fair Trade Aware, Gold Award winners from Woodland Trust as well as being deemed ‘Best Kept School’ in 2019. We offer an outdoor space which is second to none and reflects and enhances learning experiences indoors to ensure a holistic approach to providing educational the highest standard. I am immeasurably proud of my staff and I marvel at their resourcefulness and the compassionate consideration that they have demonstrated for all of our children. In countless ways, they have revealed the depth of their love for both the children and our school. They have moved proverbial mountains during recent months and have done so with grace and kindness. All our practitioners have adapted to online teaching incredibly successfully – always seeking to ‘go the extra mile’ in order to maximise learning opportunities for our children. I am proud of them, grateful to them and humbled by them.
I believed that our School Development Plan for 2019/20 was ambitious enough in its own right, but recent events have served to blast it into the stratosphere. When we decided to introduce Evidence Me and SEE SAW, little did we know that just six months later we would have delivered online lessons. Educationally and in terms of our response to COVID-19, we choose to lead rather than to follow.
Staff have embraced digital technology with a speed and enthusiasm which is indicative of their strong commitment to professional development. Our work with coding, is helping to prepare children with important skills needed for their future learning. Our approach to ICT is that it should be creative and active.
Finally, I would like to thank Tim Attwood and our board of governors for their unshakeable support through these times. Their encouragement is as highly valued as their practical support and guidance. No Principal could be better served by their governing body, but more importantly, no school could be better served by its governing body.
Since St. Teresa’s Nursery opened in 1994, we have strived to offer the highest quality education for children of our Parish. We hope 2020/21 our provision will only go from strength to strength.