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Mercy Secondary School, Mounthawk

Our first Monthly School Feature on new website are Mercy Secondary School, Mounthawk, Tralee who have kindly shared with us recent news and events within their school.

Introduction

Mercy Mounthawk is a co-educational school of 1170 students, 90 teachers and SNAs and 8 ancillary staff. We serve almost ½ the second level students in Tralee and as such we have a representative and diverse student population. There is a great richness in this and, certainly, one of the advantages of a large school is the energy, vitality and wealth of gifts, abilities and talents in the school community.

We see it as our mission to support students and staff in discovering the God given potential in each other and in realising that potential. It is our job to create an environment conducive to learning, and exploring and expanding a sense of self and community. We see that as the core of the CEIST charter.

I hope this snap shot of some of the recent activities in the school for both students and teachers, ranging from science, to sport, to social innovation, to faith development gives a little taste of life in Mercy Mounthawk.

Mercy Secondary School, Mounthawk, Tralee

TRIZ

The Mounthawk students who involved themselves in projects with an  enterprising bent were delighted to win Munster’s premier award forentrepreneurship namely the “A.I.B. and UCC+ TRIZ cup for innovation and entrepreneurship” for their idea to provide refrigeration to poorer countries without the need for electricity by using common gases, old radiators a few pipes and sunshine.

Twelve schools from Munster took part with Mercy Mounthawk being chosen as overall winners.

Two students (Sarah Guerin and Damian Sharpe) won best idea at the Kerry County Enterprise awards in the Meadowlands Hotel in Tralee in April for their “Ding Dong Doorbell” idea which aims to have callers to an empty house photographed and said photograph sent to the house owners mobile phone.

This innovation also won the “best use of technology” award at the Scifest at the ITT this year. One student as part of her mini company, designed and published a Spanish workbook for primary schools which she sold in three schools in the Tralee area with more schools expressing interest for the coming academic area.

ATHLETICS

As a school community of 1170, the sport and leisure interests of our community are diverse. Each year our teaching staff give of their time to facilitate student participation in a breadth of physical activities from hill walking to diving, tennis to golf, yoga to judo (and much more in between!). Of course the mainstream sports- Basketball, Gaelic Football, Hurling, Soccer and Athletics are the main stay of this programme.

2009 has been another record-breaking year for the Mounthawk Athletics team. Not alone did they win the Kerry Colleges Overall Girls Cross Country Shield back in December but for only the second year ever, they have won the Best Boys and Best Girls Shields at the Kerry Colleges Track and Field competition. In the North Munster Colleges, the school won two trophies for the Best Intermediate and Junior Boys categories. Added to that, four members of the team brought medals home from the All-Ireland Track and Field competitions held in Tullamore just weeks ago.

Congratulations must also go to our senior athlete Lisa Brennan who won the Best Sportswoman of the year at the recent Mounthawk awards night. Here's hoping that 2010 is just as successful.

Pictured above are the Athletics Team 2009 with their coaches Ms Elaine Costelloe & Mr. Kieran Costello.

THE YELLOW FLAG PROGRAMME

As an inclusive school community, we stress the importance of co-curriculum projects which offer our students activities that encourage a sense of social justice; from supporting local and national charities through fundraising, assisting the building of a school in Nairobi (where 16 members of the school community have been immersed for a two week period during the last two years), to developing student self awareness through our themed health weeks, to the Yellow flag project.

Mercy Mounthawk recently became involved in a new pilot project known as the Yellow Flag Programme. The programme is designed to promote and foster interculturalism among all students in Irish schools. The main aim of this pilot programme is to develop a practical series of steps to bring issues of interculturalism, equality and diversity into the whole-school programme and apply them to the day to day running of the school.

It aims to work with students, staff, management, parents and wider community groups so that issues of diversity and equality are not merely seen as "school subjects" but can be understood and taken outside the school setting intoeveryday life.

Similarly to the Green Schools, the Diversity in Schools scheme is a practical programme and an award scheme.
Completion of the nine practical steps results in the school receiving the "Yellow Flag" for diversity. The nine stages are:

  1. Intercultural and Anti-Racism Training for Staff and Management;
  2. Involving local Community groups inthe project;
  3. Organising a Diversity Committee;
  4. Conducting an Intercultural Review;
  5. Designing an Action Plan for a Diverse School;
  6. Monitoring and Evaluation of theProgramme;
  7. Establishing Curriculum work;
  8. Going beyond the School's Walls: Engaging with the Community;
  9. Creating a Diversity Code in Schools.

YOUNG SOCIAL INNOVATORS 09

YSI is education AND action… it's about issues of concern to young people, such as the environment, human rights, integration, poverty, global justice, community concerns, older people, ability and disability, mental and physical health, equality, climate justice, the developing world.

Young people direct their project, take the initiative and produce
their own results.

This year the YSI class students of Mounthawk had to come up with and develop an idea to change the world for good. The aim was to work in a team; decide what the team wanted to do and how they could respond in new ways to the problem of importance to them.

The students split into two groups and came up with two very different socially innovative projects. Both teams showed inspirational conviction, passion and commitment in researching their preferred subject. The teams achieved significant amount of news coverage and both projects are a credit to all those involved. I am absolutely delighted to say that both teams were awarded such high recognition and praise at the Annual Showcase 2009 in the RDS. The students won “Making our World Fair” and “Just and Making our World a Safer place”. One of the teams also won money in the 'Dragons Den' to help further their project on Road Safety.

Thanks to Mrs. Veronica Hunt for all her hard work and support.

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENTS 2008/09

As a school community we offer the traditional Junior and Leaving Certificate, LCVP, LCA and Transition Year. Subject choice at all stages is open and student (and parent) centred. Our staff has engaged with the Department of Education support services in pilot projects developing Transition Units, methodologies for teaching the gifted and talented, promoting Assessment for Learning, and supporting Newly Qualified Teachers.

GIFTED AND TALENTED

Now completing its second full year, this programme, which began as a staff initiative, built upon by a management accessed in-service focuses on differentiating the learning experience allowing students in the same classroom to experience their learning at their own pace. This year the staff working group, supported by the S.E.S.S. developed and shared materials to support this procedure. These materials were then shared and developed by staff for use in First and Second Year classes.

In 2009/10 a number of staff intend to pilot a system where a selection of students will have individual teacher guidance to support the fulfilment of latent academic ability.

ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING

This year, following a whole-staff in-service delivered by S.L.S.S., a working group of fifteen teachers began to explore piloting this internationally recognised pedagogical approach. Centred on the democratisation of learning, the AFL principles include student feedback systems, higher order questioning, peer and self assessment, comment-only marking, and shared learning intentions. Operating from monthly shared experience meeting, a cross section of classes, levels and year groups were introduced to the approach. Reported feedback has been extremely positive and grade increases, greater student engagement and clear feedback on pace and methodologies were identified through evaluation. In 2009/10 we plan to continue this process and endeavour to mainstream its use through the subject departments.

Joining the Dots: Faith, life, teachers, teaching and theology" Theology and spiritual renewal for teachers.
 

Click here to view details on the CEIST Faith Development team project "Joining the Dots" in conjunction with Mercy Mounthawk.