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22/09/2021

Glowing tributes to much-love retiring Offaly school principal

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Frances Lynch has retired as principal of Coolanarney NS

It was with much surprise and deep regret last May that the school community of Coolanarney National School, Blue Ball, learned the news of the upcoming retirement of popular principal, Frances Lynch.

Mrs Lynch, who will retire at the end of the academic year after 33 years as principal of Coolanarney NS, has made a momentous impact during her tenure and has expertly guided the development and growth of the school in partnership with the entire school community.

Appointed as principal and only teacher in 1988, the school at that time, which still had open fire heating, was in danger of closure, having only 18 pupils. Parents and wider school community, however, rallied with Mrs Lynch to ensure it remained open and set about improving the two-room school and ensuring a quality education for all pupils.

Mrs Lynch’s vision for an innovative, student-centred school with an emphasis on excellent learning experiences became firmly established and the school has grown over those 33 years into a highly respected, three-teacher school with full-time Special Education Teacher and 68 pupils on roll.

As principal of Coolanarney NS, Frances Lynch was exceptional and inspiring to those privileged enough to work alongside her. Her dedication and commitment to the school and to ensuring that each child reached their potential were motivating to those who saw at first hand her passion for education. Tús maith, leath na hoibre is certainly very fitting as the school motto as each and every child who passed through the door of Coolanarney NS and through Mrs Lynch’s room was guaranteed a great start in life.

She instilled values of tolerance, understanding, kindness and respect and was a fantastic role model to both staff and pupils as she practiced what she preached each and every day, both in the classroom and throughout the school. Treating each and every child, staff member and visitor with respect and kindness, Mrs Lynch created an atmosphere of warmth, positivity and welcome for all within the school. Visitors to the school often remarked on the gracious welcome they would receive and the warm positive atmosphere of the school.

As it was not possible at the time to organize a celebratory event due to Covid restrictions, the Board of Management on behalf of the school community, past and present, made presentations to Mrs Lynch in the last week of the school term.

Glowing tributes were paid to her unwavering dedication and loyal service to the school and its pupils. Chairperson of the Board of Management, Paul Carroll, expressed the deep appreciation of the school community for Mrs Lynch’s steadfast dedication, professionalism, leadership and careful management of the school over 33 years. While parents could not attend in person, an online message board was opened for anyone who wished to extend their good wishes to Frances on their retirement.

A gifted teacher, leader, manager and trusted friend, Frances Lynch’s commitment and dedication to quality education and high standards, as well as a belief that school should be a place where all children should be given equal opportunities to learn and develop as individuals and achieve their full potential, has ensured that she is leaving a thriving school ready for the next chapter in its development. Lorraine Mahon, who has taught alongside Mrs Lynch for over 20 years, has been appointed as successor.

As an outstanding teacher, principal, colleague and friend, Mrs Lynch is wished many happy years ahead filled with fun, laughter, good health and new adventures and leaves with the grateful appreciation of so many in the school community of Coolanarney NS.

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