When Limavady’s first Irish language school opened four years ago, Derry teacher, Charmaine Deery went “beyond the call of duty” to make sure everything was in order.
Not only did she knock on doors to promote the school in the Limavady borough, she also helped with its interior design. Since then, the 29-year-old Waterside woman has become a central figure to students, staff and parents at the Naiscoil and the Gaelscoil. Her work is so well thought of, a parent nominated her for a top accolade and out of more than 100 entries she is one of three finalists up for Primary School Teacher of the Year in the Ni4kidsFamily Awards 2012.
“When I first heard about it I thought: ‘Do they have the right school and teacher?’” she told the ‘Journal’. “I’m delighted to be nominated and, to be honest, really overwhelmed to know parents think that way about the work I do.”
Gaelscoil Leim An Mhadaidh was formed in 2010 following the opening of its attached Naiscoil in 2008. Although a qualified Primary School teacher, Charmaine firstly taught in the Naiscoil and then successfully progressed to being the Primary one and Two school teacher in the Gaelscoil. The school currently consists of two prefabs, one for the Naiscoil and the other for the Gaelscoil.
Involved in drafting Charmaine’s nomination were Trustee of the School and designated Child Protection Officer, Lee Devine, and parent Caroline Nicholas. In their nomination they praise Charmaine for her “devotion and dedication”.
“Prior to the Naiscoil’s opening she actively helped in the interior design of the building to the extent that she was using her own free time to paint it,” reads the nomination. “She was also involved in the initial recruitment of children to the Naiscoil and went to the extreme of going door to door to promote it to the local community.”
The nomination details the role Charmaine has played in a wide range of areas; hosting evening classes in Irish Language for parents of students, involvement in the PTA, fundraising bag packs at Tesco, and after-school classes. She always makes herself available for parents, they say.
“She has also recently got involved in carrying out storytelling in Irish to the local community through the local council. All this, and she is a mother too,” says the nomination.
“Charmaine is a wonderful person, who is supportive to all the schoolchildren and their parents. I believe the school would not be as successful as it is without her input. She is a very special person.”
Charmaine, originally from Galliagh, says she is humbled by the praise. She also revealed she didn’t know Limavady so well before she started teaching there but, because of the support from the school and community, is seriously considering a move to the Roe Valley. “It’s a lovely area and everyone is so welcoming!”
Charmaine will find out if she is Primary School Teacher of The Year, 2012, on Friday at the awards scheduled to place at the Titanic building in the Titanic Quarter.