Sinéad Greene (BEd, 3rd year students)
I began studying as a B Ed Froebel Student in September 2013 just as the Froebel College opened its doors on the Maynooth University campus. I had always wanted to study Primary Teaching in the Froebel College, even when it was a stand-alone institution in Sion Hill, Blackrock. I visited it on Open Days and I loved the family atmosphere and the warm, friendly atmosphere which greeted me. When I discovered that Froebel College were relocating to Maynooth, I was delighted to think that I could study Primary Teaching on a university campus, something which was not possible before this. However, I was worried that the atmosphere which I had loved on the Open Days would be lost on a university campus. This has not been the case. Froebel still remains a student-centred, friendly department within the university. It has stayed faithful to its traditions visible in the various workshops and classes where we learn new skills and methodologies. We also hold a “Froebel Week” on the campus where we engage and partake in Froebel-oriented activities and events. So, all was not lost. In fact, there have been many gains.
Being on a university campus offers so much to students. This university strongly encourages student involvement and engagement in campus life. The student body is very supportive and it is exciting to belong to such a large student community. I think this move has benefitted our students in enabling them to broaden their skills and expand their interests. By having the opportunity to meet other students with different interests and degrees, student-teachers, like myself, are becoming more equipped for an increasingly diverse teaching world.
Having a voice and being able to use this voice in the university to facilitate change is an aspect of the large student body which I love. Student elections are my favourite part of the year where I can get actively involved in the process, campaigning for candidates. The Froebel Department now has their own representative on the Student Union (SU) Council who lobbies the SU with a view towards helping us to integrate into the university and adapt to our future as teachers. One example of how they have supported us was by providing free stationery packs before we went out on school placement. We’re still waiting on a Froebel student to run for a sabbatical position (perhaps even SU President) on the Student Union!
The facilities on campus offered to students are very accessible and convenient. Students have full use of the swimming pool, sports centre, chaplaincy and counselling services. The College health services are outstanding and free of charge. Clubs and societies on campus provide great opportunities for students to develop different skills and discover new talents while also meeting people with similar interests from outside the teaching community. I joined the Irish society and love being a part of a committee which organises fun and enjoyable activities, while also getting to practice a little bit of ‘Gaeilge’ during the day. Since enrolling as a student in the university, I have been selected to act as Student Ambassador for the university which involves engaging in promotional work advocating for the university. This has allowed me and other primary student-teachers from Froebel to enhance our communication skills and in turn grow in confidence as we become more involved in the student community.
Finally, one of the elements which I truly appreciated when moving to Maynooth was the possibility of a being granted an Entrance Scholarship. Upon entrance to the university, I was awarded this Scholarship, which is given only to those who achieved 525 points (or more) in their Leaving Certificate Examinations. The points to enter on to the Froebel B Ed have increased substantially since the move to the university, and as a result, more and more Froebel students have been awarded this scholarship, recognising Froebel students as hardworking and diligent.
I am proud to be one of these Froebel students – a student who belongs to a very unique department. I am equally proud to belong to an institution renowned for actively encouraging student involvement while simultaneously fostering high academic standards. My experience has been most positive and fulfilling both personally and professionally and the impact of these experiences will remain with me throughout my life but will heavily influence me as a teacher who respects diversity, encourages student involvement and cherishes opportunities where the student voice can be heard. (Photo below: Sinéad pictured with one of her College friends outside Maynooth University Library)