Limerick Pre-School Naíonra na nÓg wins Best in Ireland (November 2016)
Limerick Pre-School Naíonra na nÓg, which is located at Shannonvale on the Old Cratloe Road, has won the title of ‘Best Indoor Learning Environment in Ireland’ at the Maternity & Infant Early Education Awards which took place at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire.
Director Yvonne O’Sullivan said, “I am over the moon to receive this award on behalf of my amazing team. I’m delighted their dedication and passion for providing stimulating, challenging, playful environments for our children has been recognized. We are always striving to improve our practice and be an Early Years Centre of Excellence so this award means so much to us.”
Yvonne’s team at Naíónra na nÓg includes Clara O’Dwyer, Bernie O’Loughlin, Sara Darcy and Niamh Breen, along with Sarah McGee and Edel Lavin of Once Upon a Time Montessori (also under the stewardship of Yvonne) which relocated to the Shannonvale premises this year from Scoil Chríost Rí Caherdavin.
A judging panel of industry experts was appointed by early years childcare experts Canavan Byrne who adjudicated the awards. Adjudication of the shortlist included a site visit by judges to the Limerick school. These judges included Peter Gray, Research Professor at Boston College and world expert on the evolution of play and self-directed learning; Imelda Graham, Learning Specialist, Researcher and Author of ‘Spaces to be Me: Quality Environments in Early Years Services’; Brid Hickey, Early Years Specialist and strong advocate of inclusive early education; and Ruth Charles, Dietitian (paediatrics), owner of Nutrikids and regular contributor to media.
One of the judges Imelda Graham said how she “loved the fact that the winner’s environment promoted independence, self-directed learning and creativity.”
Naíonra na nÓg Pre-School was established in 2000 in Caherdavin Limerick under the directorship of Yvonne O’Sullivan, who last week graduated with a Bachelor of Education from Mary Immaculate College. The service has grown from humble beginnings to a custom-built state of the art premises when the school relocated to Shannonvale in September 2015. The new school contains three large zoned classrooms of two Naíonra classrooms and one Montessori classroom that encourage children to develop holistically through play, a sports hall for physical education, and walled garden for outside play. The facility was designed to Yvonne’s wish list when she sat down with contractor husband Sean to draw up blueprints on an empty shell that had been lying idle since the Shannonvale estate was built in the early noughties.
Established since 2000 in Caherdavin, Yvonne O’Sullivan’s Naíonra na nÓg pre-school this week celebrated the official opening of its custom-built state of the art new premises in Shannonvale Complex on the Old Cratloe Road.
Munster, Ireland and Lions rugby star, and local Northsider, Keith Earls performed the official duties in front of colleagues, family, friends and supporters of the popular Naíonra including representatives from Limerick Childcare Committee, Gaelscoileanna and Barnardos.
The 350sq metre school has welcomed over 60 students to its morning and afternoon classes in 2016. Equipped with large zoned classrooms that encourage children to develop holistically through play, a ‘Halla’ for physical education and a walled garden for outside play, the facility was designed to Yvonne’s wish list when she sat down with contractor husband Sean to draw up blueprints on an empty shell that had been lying idle since the Shannonvale estate was built in the early noughties.
Yvonne is daughter of Trish Collings originally of South Circular Road, and school teacher Seamus Collings. She went to Scoil Carmel secondary school before completing her FETAC childcare studies after leaving school. She has taught childcare evening classes in Limerick College of Further Education and is currently finishing her B.A degree in Early Childhood Care and Education at Mary Immaculate College. Her brother David is Professor of Human Resource Management at DCU. Husband Sean, who originally trained as a plasterer, is son of John and Kitty O’Sullivan from Caherdavin. The couple have three children; Millie, Faye, and Archie.
At the launch event, it was announced that the team of Once Upon A Time montessori school, which is also under the stewardship of Yvonne, and currently located at Scoil Chríost Rí in Caherdavin, would be joining the Naíonra na nÓg location in an additional new classroom.
Yvonne said “I am very proud of our Irish culture and delighted to be educating children in the Naíonra through our native language. Now we are going bi-lingual and are delighted that Sarah and Edel from Once Upon A Time will be joining us here in Shanonvale in September. We will miss Pat and his team in Scoil Chríost Rí and will be forever grateful to him for welcoming us into his school three years ago, but I know we will continue to have strong
links with him and the school.
“Naíonra na nÓg has gone from strength to strength over the last 16 years and this is down to the commitment, dedication and passion of my team. We look forward to welcoming many more families into our service and are committed to continually striving to be an early years centre of excellence. I would like to thank Keith Earls for officially opening our facility and congratulate him on his 50th cap for Ireland” Yvonne concluded, before the capacity crowd moved outside for the official ribbon cutting.