I embarked upon my learning journey at St Joseph’s Grammar School having previously attended St. Mary’s Primary School, Cabragh. Following in the footsteps of my mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, who all attended St Joseph’s, and often told incredible stories about ‘the Convent’, I knew that my decision to join was inevitable. Little did I know that this would be one of the best decisions of my life! From establishing lifelong friendships to gaining an invaluable skill set, I can wholeheartedly say that every day at the convent was a ‘good’ day, and the passionate, inspirational, and caring teachers gave every student both roots to grow and wings to fly.
I have a plethora of fond memories from my time in St. Joseph’s and travelling to five different countries was a particular highlight for me amongst many others. Breath-taking opportunities such as swimming in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, taking a ‘selfie’ at the top of the Eiffel Tower and venturing through the cobbled streets of Krakow on a horse and carriage undoubtedly kindled my love of travel and equipped me with the confidence and skills to do so in later life. However, I have yet to master the skill of staying below the luggage allowance limit when flying – probably because the kind teachers at St. Joseph’s used to transfer my accessories into their suitcases at the 4 am airport stop to ensure that my outfits for the trip ahead were complete, and for this, I am still grateful!
As a passionate musician, one of my favourite parts about of life at St. Joseph’s was getting involved with activities in the outstanding music department. Being a member of the school’s choir, string group and orchestra provided many opportunities, such as performing in shows, competitions, and concerts in prestigious locations, including the Waterfront Hall in Belfast and open-air stages in Liège, Belgium! From this, I learned the importance of teamwork and particularly loved the connections that were made between junior and senior students. Looking back, I realise that my involvement in music at the school gave me the confidence to believe in myself and to realise my ambitions. These attributes helped me to achieve two diploma’s in music and to be selected twice as Ireland’s representative for the International Youth Symphony Orchestra, which took place in California.
I studied Music, Religion and Geography at A-Level and thoroughly enjoyed each subject. I was blessed with phenomenal teachers at this stage, who encouraged me to do my best to get the results that I needed for my university course. Whilst completing my A-Levels, I was fortunate to gain a place on the school’s remarkable Community Link Programme, where I spent one hour weekly with a class in a local primary school, helping children with literacy and numeracy. This heart-warming experience gave me an insight into the daily practice of a teacher and showed me how enormously gratifying it can be, which made a huge influence on the next chapter of my life.
After leaving St. Joseph’s Grammar School, I decided to study a Bachelor of Education, where I specialised in Primary Education with Music at St Mary’s University College, Belfast. I absolutely loved the four-year course, and it was a dream to complete my first placement in the school that I completed Community Link in. This degree also gave me the opportunity to study in Lisbon, Portugal for two semesters, and I have since graduated with a First Class Honours. After graduating, I moved to Doha, Qatar to take up my first teaching position as a Year 1 teacher. I completely resonate with the belief that if you choose a job that you love, you will never work a day in your life, and I am so thankful to St Joseph’s for empowering me to achieve my potential and fulfil my dream of becoming a teacher.
My advice to Primary 7 pupils venturing into the next stage of their education would be to believe in yourself, follow your heart, and choose a school that you know you will be happy in because life is too short to be anything but. If you choose St. Joseph’s Grammar School, you are not just choosing a school, but a journey, where you will be inspired and encouraged to be the best version of yourself and to make your dreams a reality.