Visitors to St Joseph’s Grammar School, Scoil Iósaef, Domhnach Mór, often comment on the special atmosphere that is apparent as soon as they walk down the corridors and meet the pupils and staff of the school. They find it difficult to put their finger on what it is that makes this place quite so special, but I believe I can offer some explanation for this phenomenon.
The distinctive ethos left to us by the Daughters of the Cross, the school’s founding Order of Sisters, is as much a part of the fabric of the school as are the bricks and mortar. Even though the last remaining nuns left our school community in October 2007, their rich legacy guides us in everything we do to this day. The Sisters’ focus on developing the whole person, as opposed to an exclusive focus on intellectual attainment, is still a strong feature of the way our teachers teach and our pupils learn. We believe that each child is to be celebrated as a unique and special person made in the image and likeness of God. We believe that paying close attention to the social, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of each of our pupils will naturally pay dividends in their academic attainment. For us, the journey is as important as the destination.
Central to the educational experience we provide in Donaghmore is the guiding philosophy that all our interactions and exchanges with one another are based on respect, honesty and personal integrity. The strong relationships we have with our parent body ensures that all our young people are well-supported in developing those important values and skills that will serve them well in the future. At the end of their seven years with us, our pupils leave with a strong sense of self-discipline, self-respect and self-belief. These are values that they will draw upon time and again throughout their adult lives.
In 2010 the Department of Education agreed to open an IMU at St. Joseph’s Grammar School, initially catering for up to 25 pupils. This decision was based not just upon geographical considerations, but was official recognition of the school’s long-established tradition of perpetuating our Irish language and cultural heritage. The IMU has grown from strength to strength and in order to meet increasing demand from local Gaelscoileanna, we are currently working with the Department of Education to almost double the number of places available for year 8 pupils in the IMU for September 2015.
Our curriculum is rich and varied and provides each child with the opportunity to shine. We have strong collaborative links with other schools in the local area through which we have been able to extend the range of subjects we offer, particularly at A Level. At times, some pupils may need extra help to overcome a temporary difficulty and we are swift to act and provide additional support and guidance. Equally, we take every opportunity to celebrate the many achievements of the youngsters, whether it be sport, music, competitions or academia. This year, two of our A Level students were awarded the prestigious JP Mc Manus Award for excellence at A Level and I have no doubt that we will feature in that list of winning schools again next year.
Whilst many schools have struggled to fill their places in recent times, the number of applications to St Joseph’s Grammar School has risen year on year. We see that as parental endorsement of all the good work and excellent pastoral care that we provide for our pupils. The Department’s recent decision to investment £4 million in additional classrooms and a new state of-the-art sports hall is likewise physical validation of the excellent educational experience we offer here. I am glad to report that work on this new development is scheduled to begin in February this year. Our work to secure the next phase of a new build continues undiminished.
I do hope you enjoy browsing our school website and if you don’t find what you are looking for there, please don’t hesitate to contact us by phone and our staff will be happy to help.