Thursday 17 January 2019

Aoife pens school books

Local teacher, Aoife Curran-Butler who has written a new English text book.
Local teacher, Aoife Curran-Butler who has written a new English text book.

Margaret Roddy

Dundalk teacher Aoife Curran-Butler has achieved a long held ambition when she recently saw her name in print as an author of a new series of English language books for primary school pupils.

An avid reader from a young age, Aoife has always had a great love of books, and harboured a dream of one day writing her own.

She teaches the senior infants class at Kilkerley National School, as well as being a tutor with the teaching trainer body Aistear, and realised that there was gap in the market for new text books to support the recently introduced 'levelled' English course.

'There were no Irish produced books to support the programme which is designed to cater for the reading skills of individual pupils, and teachers were having to use books published in England.

She mentioned the idea of producing books aimed at Irish pupils to Ciaran Payne, the sales rep from educational publishers CJ Fallons, when he called to the school.

'He knew about my background in delivering workshops with Aistear and next thing I had a phone call from the editor asking me to submit proposals and stories,' she says.

As a result Aoife was commissioned along with three other primary teachers to create the new programme for the teaching of English in our primary schools.

As a co-author of the programme, which includes text books, workbooks, and teachers' resource books, as well as a huge digital resource package, Aoife was determined that it would reflect the lives of the pupils who are using it.

The books centre around the lives of 'Luke and Emma' who are set to become the new 'Ann and Barry' or 'Ben and Tara' for a new generation of school children.

'There are a hundred stories in the books, which follows them on their day to day lives and there's also a magical element based on Irish folk stories.'

'There's a real Irish focus in the stories as their dog is an Irish Wolfhound and they go to Croke Park and take part in the St Patrick's Day Parade,' says Aoife, who, as a proud Dundalk woman, named the fictional town where Luke and Emma live after Seatown where she now lives. 'One of my stories sees them playing on the mountains with Cuchulainn.'

With two young children of her own, Aoife says they provided her with lots of inspiration for her stories as did her times at the mother and toddler group in the library.

Dundalk library holds a special place in her heart, as she remembers going their as a child and exceeding the number of books she was allowed with her card. 'Kathy and Isobel were great as they always encouraged me to bring home as many books as I liked.'

'I was always a keen reader and noticed the name Tom Roche on loads of my schoolbooks and it's funny to think my name is now on books.'

She pays tribute to those who supported her as she worked on the 'Luke and Emma' series which was launched at Irish Primary Schools' Network annual conference recently. 'I got great support from the principal in Kilkerley NS, Madonna Lambert and also in local Educational Centre.

And now that she has seen her name in print, Aoife might very well continue her writing career outside of the educational sector.

The Argus