A Message from the  Staff

May 2020

Mr Murray


Lock down in the Murray household has been a bizarre experience. We have all had to change routines, restructure and accommodate others. We have had to cooperate regarding timetabling of events. Our daughter can’t practice her singing if someone is on a work call. One son can’t play drums at lunch time if the other is teaching a leaving cert class. The new normal as we say.  

Today is a good day to write these few paragraphs. Today the baby of our family graduates online. Later today we will all sit at our laptops and join the graduation ceremony. We will watch and listen with great pride as my daughter’s name is called. 

We spent last night looking at photos. First day in junior infants, first day in secondary school, debs' balls and college balls. All taken in the same spot in the garden. Today we will add another photo to the collection and when eventually we get it developed, we will caption it Dr. Murray. 

Any other day we are all woken up at 6.15am as our eldest returns from his early morning run. As I get up each morning, I make comparisons in my mind. At this stage we’d be learning how to exchange batons. At this stage standardized tests would be distributed, next year's holiday sheet would be organised, class teachers / staff allocation would have issued from DES. The list goes on... 

I miss the sounds of the school when working from home. Choir practice with Ms. Lyons. Ms. Shaw's 6th class as they disappear past my office on their daily mile. I’m still waiting to see if any of them beat Ms. Shaw. The lively exchanges in Ms. Davies 5th class. Ms. Laing preparing her green warriors for the future. Ms. Emily Murphy’s 1st class looking tired now that they have an extra hour in school. Junior and senior infants, Ms. Rogan and Ms. Smyth in full flow. Happy engaged faces. Out to Ms. Elders, a quick look at the fish. Up to Ms. Dowser trialing the Bbots. 

On my way back to my office I’ll find an excuse to interrupt either or all the other teachers. Ms. Eilis Murphy, Ms. Whelan, Mr. Condell or Ms. Yeates. Poor Sharon, when I meet her the conversation is inevitably about the weather in Westport and by how much Dublin will beat Mayo this year. All normal interactions in the weekly life of an administrative principal. 



At home, the garden has never looked better, edges trimmed, flower beds weeded and BBQing if possible. Every dry evening a nice walk, no traffic and lots of wildlife. Blue sky and visible stars. 

On a lighter note the staff in my local supermarket keep suggesting to me that I might be more comfortable shopping at their designated times for the elderly. I thank them politely and remain in the queue. Inwardly I realise that to the infants I must be really ancient. The thought brings a smile to my face

Sixth Class


Well I’m sure at this stage you’ve all heard that schools will not re-open until September. I’ve no doubt it’s the right decision but I’m desperately disappointed for you and for me that you don’t get to finish out your time in SPNS! Every teacher will argue that their class are the best but you really a fabulous group and I wanted nothing more than to have you in the classroom until the end of June.

Teaching through a computer screen is like nothing I’ve done before. There are times, I promise you when I’m barely keeping my head above water. Everything is new, for me and for you and honestly, I would love nothing more than to be back in the classrooms and corridors of SPNS!

However, in the midst of the chaos, I get daily updates from you of the wonderful work you are doing at home. I’m confident that some of the world’s best architects, engineers, scientists, artists, chefs and authors have yet to be discovered. They are the next generation and the world is in the safest of hands. Thank you for your hard work, it never goes unnoticed!

Thank you to your wonderful parents who are guiding you through these strange times. Not only are they encouraging you but they are also encouraging me and I’ll always be very grateful.

We are on the countdown to the summer holidays; there is light at the end of the tunnel and you will look back on this in the future and it will all be a distant memory. Until then, keep safe, smile, laugh, and keep washing those hands!

Ms Shaw

Fifth Class

Welcome to my kitchen table. I would never have imagined that I would be teaching my class in this way. Every day I am working in an empty room in front of the laptop. No chatting, no interruptions and no swinging on chairs. 

I think and plan and set the pages and  search for interesting breaks away from the books. I wonder if it is too much work or too little. I receive emails, photographs and videos from the families that can message me. I know that all of the  children are doing a fantastic job of keeping up their school work at home.  I know that every single child is working hard and doing their absolute best. 

They are tackling the Aimsir Fháistineach, Percentages, World War 1, Place Names and  Pronouns to name but a few topics. There are kitchens out there with Lava Lamps, Marble Runs, Natural Dyes, Insulated Drinking Cups, Poetry and Paintings. Thank you very much to all of the parents who take on all of these projects as well as filling the role of Homeschooling teacher. Your continuing support is very much appreciated.  I know your kitchens are a mess, I'm sorry! 

We did get to join together as a class this week on Zoom which was great. We were all a bit nervous! The children all read me their poems on Homeschooling and they were fabulous. They brought their pets because they knew I would like to see them. I loved it. Guinea pigs and dogs are always welcome. Lovely to see parents and grandparents too. 

School has never been so different, but we will continue as we are, for as long as needed. Fifth  classers, you are such a great group of children, thank you. 

Mrs D.















Third Class

It seems very strange to be writing this even though we haven’t been in school since March 12th.  A lot has changed since then & we are beginning to settle into our new routine.

Third class have been carrying out questionnaires in history and asking their grandparents about transport when they were young.  In Maths, we have continued on with our programme and have been learning about 3D shapes.  Some people sent me great photos of robots they made from recycled materials at home.

We had our first Zoom call on Tuesday. Whilst I know many of us are missing being in the classroom and seeing our friends, it was lovely to see so many of you and hear all your news. Before the school was closed we had planted beans, so we even got an update on how these were doing.  

I want to thank the children for all their diligence and hard work over the past weeks. Also thank you to all the parents for their help & for sending me screenshots of completed work. 

I look forward to seeing you all back in Sandford, whenever that might be.

But until then take care,

Andrea Dowzer


Second Class

Well what a strange few weeks it has been! I think at this point we're all settling in to some form of routine. 2nd Class had a class call today! It was so lovely to see everyone's faces all smiling on screen! We each spoke about a great day we've had over the last few weeks! Some people celebrated birthdays, others went for a lovely walk, some had a water fight in the garden and a lot of people had baking and cooking involved!

A few pets joined us for the call too! Rabbits, cats, dogs, hamsters and teddies! Ms. Laing's cat even popped in for a few minutes! It was great to reconnect with each other! 

Fourth Class

Hello everyone! What a crazy few weeks this has been! 

Before I get into the rest of this blog post, I want to say thank you. Thank you fourth class for continuing to put so much effort into your work. I have been so impressed by how well you have adapted to the huge changes. You are making me so proud every day. 

Teaching from home has been quite a change! Fourth class won’t be surprised to hear that I have a routine set up! I normally go for a quick walk in the morning while listening to a podcast or some music. This has become one of my favourite things to do! When I get back, I have my breakfast and, of course, a cup of tea! It has been strange to have breakfast by myself and not with all of the other teachers! During the day, I get emails and messages on Seesaw with pictures of work by fourth class. Every day, I have a huge smile on my face after reading a story or a poem by one of the talented authors and poets of fourth class. I get sent pictures of beautiful art and crazy creations! I hear about how we are keeping up with P.E at home- some people are getting very creative! Getting these updates makes me feel like we are in school and I am always left smiling!

During our video calls, I asked fourth class to tell me about something that they now appreciate more than they did before. Many members of our class told me that they were so grateful to have a garden to play in as they know that lots of people around Ireland don’t have a garden to enjoy during this time. I heard lots about enjoying walks within their 2km and being appreciative for the green areas and parks that they could go and visit while on their daily walk. I heard about enjoying time on trampolines, being grateful for technology that allows them to keep in touch with their friends and appreciating having extra time with our families and pets. I was so happy to see that we are finding so much joy in the little things and to hear that we are all really appreciative of things that we may previously have taken for granted. 

I am really thankful to live in such a lovely area and I am really grateful for my daily walks. This is definitely something that I took for granted before all of this. Like fourth class, I am also extra appreciative of technology at the moment! I have been able to have video calls to keep in contact with my family and friends. Recently, I have even been able to see and talk to fourth class during our group video calls! I love being able to see your smiles and hear your laughs, news and book recommendations! Even though we are talking to each other through screens, it feels like we are back in SPNS! 

I am already looking forward to our next catch up over video call and hearing more of your news! Until then, keep reading, keep smiling and keep having fun! 

First Class

The academic year of 2020 got off to a great start. In February, first class were busy baking, birdwatching, designing clothes, planting seeds and creating parachutes for Humpty Dumpty. First class also enjoyed some extra special PE lessons, as the gymnastics equipment was set up in the school hall. The monkey bars were a real hit. Unfortunately, on Thursday the 12th March, just as we were painting shamrocks and getting ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, news broke that schools were to close. Luckily, first class pupils love learning and the Covid-19 pandemic has not quenched their thirst for knowledge. Although we do not get to see each other every day, the pupils of first class continue to work hard from home. Each week, new tasks and activities are set and Ms Murphy has received some of the most wonderful work via email from the pupils. Zoom calls are in full swing for both school related meetings and for play dates also. Soon enough we will all be reunited and be able to do normal things again. However, for now we must continue to do what we are doing (remote learning, zoom playdates and social distancing) and stay safe.

Senior Infants

Dear Parents and Senior Infants children,

To say I miss the class is an understatement!! I wish we were all back in our Senior Infants classroom singing songs, saying rhymes, reading books, writing stories and playing Aistear.

Everybody is doing such a wonderful job working from home. Well done to everybody who sent in Earth Day art and photographs. The variety was fantastic! It was great to see children outside exploring the environment and doing jobs. The slideshow is now up on our shared folder. Well done to everybody who took part in the foot shake dance challenge for Active Schools week. I have received some very impressive routines!

Thank you for all the written letters telling me your news. It’s always such a nice surprise when the postman pops another few envelopes in my letterbox. I’m doing my best to write a reply to everyone as quick as I can.  

Our Zoom meeting was a success! It was brilliant to hear everybody’s news and so nice to see everyone’s faces and ‘be together’ while staying apart. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.

Finally, I am so grateful to the parents and minders for bearing with me as I navigate this distance learning malark. Thank you for taking the time to help your children with all of these activities. I guess we’re all learning new skills!  You too are doing a wonderful

Junior Infants


What a crazy time we find ourselves in. As unsettling as it may feel now for us all, I stumbled on a quote by Dr. Seuss that says that “sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory”. I agree. Although we are not in school, we haven’t stopped learning; be it baking with Mum and Dad or playing board games in the afternoon. In our case, we have the comfort of knowing that this is just a moment and that we will all be back together very soon.

Since the lockdown, I’ve loved heading out to the garden. The weather has been so great. We sowed some vegetables and have already noticed their shoots rising from the soil! Carrots, tomatoes, scallions, the list goes on. I’ve been on watering duty every night and enjoy the bit of responsibility it brings.

I’ve also enjoyed going on my daily walk around the park near my house.  It’s a welcomed change of scenery. I’ve been listening out for the birds in the trees (especially the blackbird that Junior Infants have been learning about this week) and looking out for all the different types of flowers in bloom.

I really can’t wait to return to SPNS to see my Junior Infant class, along with all the other pupils and teachers. I’ve been so pleased with the work Junior Infants have done for me so far and am excited for all the activities we will be doing once we’re back together again - when all of this is a memory that we’ve grown and learned from.


Take care and see you all soon,

Mr. Condell