Strong mathematical skills are critical factors in the future development of the economy, and teachers are in the front-line of fostering such skills among the young. On Sunday 26 May, a unique and special ceremony took place in University College Cork's Aula Maxima (home of the beautifully ornate stained-glass Boole Window), where accolades, tributes and awards were given to pioneering secondary school teachers and students of mathematics in Ireland.
Photo: Portion of Boole Memorial Window in the Aula Max, University College Cork
First prize for Irish Teachers of Mathematics went to Sarah Tallon and second place to Breda Disney. The jury, drawn from leading academics, teachers and a nominated member of the Royal Irish Academy, were particularly impressed with Sarah's participatory, discovery-based method of teaching, and with Breda's ability to bring out the best in her students.
Sarah Tallon Winner of IMT Award 2019 - Photo: Brian Loughheed
All 150 nominated teachers received special end-of-school gifts: “Thank You” posters personalised with quotes from their nominations. The winner, Sarah Tallon, on reading excerpts from her nomination said:
“I was moved beyond words. For a student to recognise the work that I do to promote Maths throughout the school, and then go to the effort of submitting a nomination, was a validation that my work is appreciated and I must continue at the same level of enthusiasm for as long as I possibly can”.
The occasion was not all about the teachers! The teachers’ awards also celebrated students' success in the Irish Mathematical Olympiad (IrMO) 2019. For six of them, this will be the springboard leading to their participation in the 60th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) - the world championship for school mathematicians.
Team representing Ireland at the upcoming competition in Bath, United Kingdom on 10-22 July are:
Members of Irish Team in the 60th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) - Photo: Brian Loughheed
Throughout the day, talented Maths Olympians and University staff surprised the audience with performances spanning a variety of artistic genres: music, poetry, essay, dance. It takes celebrations like this to remind us that Mathematics is beauty as well as the basis of today’s science and technology and that teachers are the link that can often make the difference in a young person’s life.
32nd Irish Mathematical Olympiad Roll of Honour Recipients 2019 - Photo: Brian Loughheed
These awards are sponsored by the Frank Kenny Fund at The Community Foundation for Ireland for a five year period. The donor has supported the Award on the basis of a lifelong interest in mathematics and a belief in the need to recognise excellence in teaching. The first two editions of the award are also partially supported by the SFI Discover programme.
The Irish Mathematical Trust is an organization of mathematicians dedicated to inspiring and training Ireland’s next generation of creative thinkers. The IMT offers school students a global perspective by organizing the participation of Irish teams in prestigious international competitions – Mathematical Olympiads - with three silver and seven bronze medals earned by Irish students in the last five years.
The Community Foundation for Ireland is one of the largest philanthropic organisations in Ireland. Cumulative grant-making now exceeds €39million. Through the generosity of its donors, The Community Foundation for Ireland continued to support the community and voluntary sector and provided a diverse range of grants in support of communities throughout Ireland and overseas.