(Originally published 13th February 2020)
Our screening of the critically-acclaimed documentary, ‘Resilience: The Biology of Stress & the Science of Hope’ for staff at North Presentation Primary School in Gerald Griffin Street, on the 12th February, was a moving and insightful experience for all.
The aim of the event was to raise awareness of the impact of early childhood experiences, particularly those of adversity on children’s development, and to facilitate a discussion on how the school community might respond. One key message is that supportive relationships can buffer the impact of ACEs and we can take this as ‘a narrative of hope’
The Lord Mayor, Cllr John Sheehan, attended the event, showing his interest in supporting an ACE aware whole community approach in Cork.
North Presentation Primary School is a DEIS school, defined by the Dept of Education as ‘schools in which the average socio-economic background of students is below the national average’.
The challenges facing any school principal today are considerable, but for Nickie Egan, principal, there are the additional challenges that this socio-economic disadvantage brings.
During the event, Nickie acknowledged that staff are already doing a great job at being that ‘one good adult’ for the children and that they shouldn’t underestimate the impact they can have on a child’s life.
She said: “It takes a special kind of teacher to come into our school”.
It was moving to see the dedication of all of the staff and a privilege to hear Nickie’s emotional insight into how individual pupils had come to mind as she watched the documentary.
It was clear that the documentary resonated strongly with the group. In the discussions that followed, many could identify with similar situations in the school every day. There was a sense of looking individually and collectively at what more they could do to support pupils and empower parents.
The importance of teachers looking after themselves was highlighted, and the documentary opened a discussion on trauma-informed practice. The Lord Mayor also referred to the importance of mental and physical health of both students and staff.
Dr Maeve Hurley, founder of Ag Eisteacht, said: “Being ACE aware helps teachers to understand some of the behaviours they may be seeing at school could be due to Toxic Stress or ACEs. Wondering about what has happened to someone rather than what is wrong with them is a first step towards compassionate communication and engagement, helping people to empathise, stay out of judgement and build trust.
“Yesterday’s screening was an uplifting experience; the level of interest and engagement by Nickie, her staff at North Presentation Primary School and the Lord Mayor was both heart-warming and hopeful.”
Our ABLE4Teachers summer 2020 course for primary and secondary teachers and SNAs will run in July and August. We also offer a choice of six 2-4 hour workshops running throughout the year, ranging from ‘An introduction to managing conflict in the school community’ to ‘Building resilience- putting on one’s own oxygen mask first.’ For further information: 021-4356556 or via email [email protected]