The invaluable role Special Needs Assistants play in schools was highlighted last week in Ballydesmond when pupils, colleagues and parents paid tribute to Mary Breen who has just retired after 12 years as SNA at the School.
Following Mass celebrated by Fr. Joseph Tarrant PP, presentations were made to Mary from the Board of Management, Parents Council and pupils. In addition, 6th Class pupils pulled out all the stops when they performed a song they had composed especially for Mary with the help of their class Teacher Niamh Cronin.
Fr. Joe Tarrant speaking about Mary said: “We live in famously unstable times with so many people uprooted and unsettled on so many levels and so much changing. Mary, you have been such a refreshing contrast in the community of Ballydesmond National School, so stable, always calm, always dependable and sensible, such a secure point of reference, patient and so good to work with.
Many would like to know your secret Mary, that special kind of nature and grace that has made it all possible, if only it could be patented and bottled. Thank you more than words can say. May the joy of those days always be in your heart” Fr. Joe continued.
Adding his congratulations, school Principal Pat Neenan said that Mary’s dedication to the students in her care has been incredible.
"She leaves a wonderful legacy behind and it is a great honour to be able to say a few words on behalf of the entire school community as we mark Mary’s retirement. She is the ultimate professional who goes about her business in a very understated manner but her impact has been immeasurable, she has a wonderful presence and has had a long and lasting impact on every child she has worked with. Mary, thank you, retirement is not the end of the road, it’s the beginning of the open highway” Mr. Neenan said.
In reply Mary thanked everyone involved for organising the lovely retirement party for her.
“I will miss all my colleagues, pupils and former pupils. I have countless fabulous memories, thank you all so much” she said.