Kathleen Byrne, BEd. MEd., PGDEL.
Kathleen is the principal of St. Patrick’s NS, Glencullen, Dublin 18 since 2008. Kathleen is a passionate advocate of all aspects of education and is involved with many partners in education. She is a member of the IPPN National Committee, a mentor with the Centre of School Leadership and a PDST Digital Leadership summer tutor. She has recently begun a pilot initiative for IPPN entitled ‘Partnership Principals’.
In March 2014, Kathleen and her colleague Ciara O Reilly, founded Teachmeet Ireland, a non-profit organisation and the first Primary Education specific network of Teachmeets. Their objective is to provide short snappy CPD to educators via the collaborative Teachmeet style.
Kathleen is very interested in Development Education. Her school has reached the finals of the Irish Aid Awards 7 times, winning the award twice. In July 2017 Kathleen delivered teacher training programmes in Capetown South Africa with Mellon Educate and looks forward to expanding this work in 2018.
My alarm goes off… and I roll over for another 5 mins snooze!!! But once I’m up, I’m up and after the usual morning routine, I leave my home in the small seaside town of Greystones for the picturesque village of Glencullen. I usually avoid the carpark of the N11 for the winding country roads of the Sugar Loaf mountain.
I am responsible for… leading quality teaching and learning of our 180 pupils. I am so lucky to work in a fabulous school with an excellent staff and a very supportive parent body. Having this quality school community makes my role a lot easier!
The role of a principal is quite expansive including providing instructional, transformational and ethical leadership to the school community; ensuring effective provision for children with special educational needs; managing the school’s financial, human, technological & curricular resources; developing, implementing & embedding policies; and cultivating & managing external relationships with stakeholders. Add to this responsibility for buildings maintenance, fundraising, health & safety, data protection, child protection, staffing issues, student wellbeing, parental support and continuous professional development, and you can see why our days are so busy!
My typical day… involves a lot of communication!!! Whether engaging with students, reflecting with staff, listening to parental concerns or making decisions with BOM members and/or external agencies, I strive to be authentic and present throughout all my interactions. I love teaching so every day I teach a lesson or class. Currently I teach 5th class Maths every morning and that always gets my day off to a super start!
The best part of my job… is working with children. They are the joy of my day!! Teaching is such a rewarding job which is why I teach a class every day. I try to involve myself in every aspect of school life from Student Council, assemblies & sacrament preparation to curriculum events, project advice & sporting events. Getting on my knees to play with the infants or chatting to the senior pupils on yard, always gives me an insight into their individual lives. Children inspire me, motivate me and ground me. As a principal, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of paperwork and government requirements. But the children remind me why we all join this career. I truly believe that we are shaping our future society by the quality of education and respectful conversations we have with our pupils.
The most challenging part of my job…
All human relationships can be challenging due to conflicting perspectives. A school is a microcosm of society with many differing viewpoints. It can be a challenge to manage these different perspectives while always keeping the child to the forefront of each decision. Both intuition and balanced judgement come to play in leading a school. As an ethical school leader, I cannot be swayed by the emotions of some, but rather I always focus on what is best for the collective student body.
I am inspired by… passionate teachers and school leaders! Our Teachmeets are a prime example of this when we meet ordinary teachers & principals doing extra ordinary things in their schools. The powerful, positive energy I experience meeting like-minded individuals inspires me to always keep learning, keep growing & keep reflecting. I have never left a Teachmeet without of plethora of brilliant ideas, resources, suggestions & contacts!
I love my free time with friends and family. The job of a school principal can sometimes feel like a 24hr a day job, so it’s important to take quality time out to recharge mentally & physically. Some fresh air by the seaside, dinner with friends and a good book can create the perfect evening after a busy day. I’m a proud Leinster Rugby supporter so after a particularly stressful day, an evening at the RDS cheering the lads on is the perfect remedy!