RAHEEN Wood Steiner National School has a new chairman of its board of management, clinical psychologist, broadcaster and author, David Coleman.
The Ogonnelloe resident has recently taken on the new role at the Tuamgraney-based school. Mr Coleman is well known for his award-winning television programme Bullyproof, the series Families in Trouble, Teens in the Wild and more recently his ongoing project 21st Century Child, which is running on RTÉ One on Tuesdays at 10.35pm.
Mr Coleman’s three children attended Raheen Wood Steiner National School and his wife, Michelle, who is the chairperson of the parents’ association, has been actively involved with the school since their eldest started there.
“He started in the local national school here in Ogonnelloe and then after two years, he moved into Raheen Wood Steiner School when my wife discovered Steiner education. We decided to make the shift and all three have either been through or are going through the school,” he said.
What struck a chord with them was the emphasis Steiner education has on creating a love of learning, something he described as a new and engaging style of teaching.
“A lot of the teaching is done through very practical means and using multiple senses. So, for instance, when children are learning to read, they get a sense of the form of the letters and the words. as well as just learning the words. There is a really positive emphasis on nature and using nature and experimentation. School textbooks weren’t necessarily a part of the classroom. It is very much them creating their own text books from what they are learning orally. It has always struck me as a really wholesome type of education. It is broad and multi-denominational,” he said.
Mr Coleman said the school has been looking to be recognised as a national school for a long number of years and while it has temporary recognition currently, he hopes to push hard to get that recognition made permanent.
“That will give recognition to Steiner education and will really show just how it absolutely matches the national school curriculum and that it offers that alternative to people, certainly those in East Clare,” he said.
He added that, for 2014, parents have great hopes for further developments at the school.
“We are really hopeful that we will be in a position to build a new school as part of the recognition process as a Steiner national school. Raheen Wood is the longest established Steiner primary school in the country. Many people have moved into the area so their children could attend the school,” he said.
Originally from Dublin, he moved to the region for work reasons 18 years ago and it was a happy coincidence that they had Raheen Wood Steiner National School on their doorstep. “I wouldn’t have really been aware of it, only for one of our neighbours was a teacher at the school. We and our two older children decided they would go to regular secondary school in Villiers in Limerick. It has been a very normal transition for them. They really enjoyed their experience there. I don’t think we could have been happier with the way they seemed happy in school and it has been a really positive experience for all,” he said.
Speaking about the outgoing chairperson, Theron Robson, Mr Coleman said “he did an amazing job”.
“He has gone through that whole transition from being a Steiner school to a Steiner national school and all the liaising he has done with the department is quite remarkable. Even where we are at now, hopefully on the verge of permanent recognition, is in a large part due to Theron,” he said.