Among the thousands of Irish organizations in the United States, the Irish American Partnership continues to distinguish itself as a unique organization by dedicating its resources toward education in Ireland and the long-term health of the Irish nation.
A successful education system is critical in preparing future Irish leadership to manage the country in the years ahead.
Since its inception in 1987 the Irish American Partnership has worked with Ireland’s Department of Education, nearly 500 schools and colleges, the two main teacher colleges, and many independent learning centers to advance their common cause.
In the North the Partnership has funded more than 50 schools and colleges and various civic organizations to assist them in doing their work without regard for their political differences.
It all began back in the 1990s with a research program funded jointly by the Irish Department of Education and the Partnership to determine the most effective way to teach Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, known today worldwide as the STEM subjects. Using the good offices of Saint Patrick’s Teaching College in Dublin, 30 schools were selected for a year-long study, with the rural counties of Kerry, Sligo, Galway and Mayo the program’s targets. The results were revealing.
The principals and teachers of the 30 schools were key to the study’s success. Everyone was encouraged to be explicit in their comments and advice on where a new emphasis might be placed to help students learn better. The teachers, saying they had less than adequate training to fully approach the newly emphasized subjects, were anxious to learn more.
Working with the two main teaching colleges in Ireland, St. Patrick’s teaching college in Dublin and Mary Immaculate teaching college in Limerick, the Partnership set out to fund new programs to make it easier to help students with STEM subjects. Close contacts between the colleges and the Partnersip have resulted in valuable teaching programs over many years.
These efforts were the main focus of the Irish American Partnership’s Saint Patrick’s Day Breakfasts in Boston and Chicago last month. Dr. Maeve Liston, director of enterprise and engagement at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick came over to Boston and Chicago and Boston to talk about her programs with some 600 Partnership supporters in attendance at both venues.
Her remarks spoke to the kind of work that Partnership donors enable her to do. “Every year the Partnership funding allows us to offer professional development programs to teachers developing their confidence and ability to teach STEM skills,” Dr. Liston said, adding that “the Irish American Partnership Funding has also allowed us to develop many initiatives with 6housands of children every year through activities in and out of the classroom as part of our National Science Week, Maths Week, Engineers Week, Tech Week, Code Week and so forth.”
The Partnership also allowed her and her team to work with DELLEMC on a very exciting robotics initiative in 21 schools in Limerick, Tipperary, Clare, and Cork last year, she said. Those were places “where we provided training and mentorship for teachers in delivering a robotics project with their class,” she said.”
Her remarks were just a few of the complimentary comments received concerning the Partnership’s work.
Another Partnership program that has received much acclaim is the support it provides for the RDS Primary School Science Fairs held annually in several Irish cities, including Belfast. It is at these events that young students present their own school science projects from to be viewed by the public and their peers. Dublin’s RDS Science Fairs program received its initial funding commitment from the Partnership in 2014.
The funding goes on. Mary Sugrue, a former Irish school teacher who is now the president and CEO of the Irish American Partnership, and her forward-thinking board of directors regularly sponsor events that ensure that Partnership supporters are well informed.
To gain a complete picture of the work and activities of the Partnership, go to its informative website, irishap.org, where you can use a unique feature allowing you to select the program and location in Ireland that you want to support.