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  • Jacob Bennett-Woolf

Prize Giving Ceremony for The Award for the Irish Teachers of Mathematics

The event honoured the many accomplishments of the winners and also of the shortlisted teachers: Linda Cusack; Aine Devlin; Aoife Harrison; Edel Mc Phelim; Niall Murphy; Sinead O'Donovan; Eoghan O'Leary; Edel Ryder-Hanrahan and Kristina Troy. We look forward to hearing from them again in future years.

Winner Irene Stone (right) and runner-up Breda Disney (left) together with

The inaugural Award for Irish Teachers of Mathematics is a UCC-born initiative established to recognise the outstanding achievements and significant contributions to the mathematical education of secondary school teachers throughout the Republic of Ireland.

The main prize consisted of a trophy, together with €10,000, conferred to an outstanding teacher who demonstrated excellence across four main criteria: professional expertise in the subject of Mathematics, effective teaching practices, care for students' development and contributions to

the community. Administration of this award was through the Irish Mathematical Trust and, to ensure the integrity of the process, The Royal Irish Academy has nominated a member to the jury.

The Irish Mathematical Trust gratefully acknowledges the support of the Frank Kenny Fund at The Community Foundation for Ireland in Ireland in funding the Award and the Olympiad 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 2017-2018 award is also generously supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) through its SFI Discover programme. #believeinscience

About the teachers:

Irene Stone from St. Mark’s Community School, Tallaght

Awarded John M Forde medal for Mathematics for achieving top undergraduate examination performance in final year of her BSc in Applied Sciences, Irene Stone worked for 3 years as an engineer designing integrated circuits before starting teaching in 2002. Since then she has attained three postgraduate qualifications from TCD, with a 4th ongoing at UCD.

Her learning and own research are reflected in her teaching practice, such as helping her students use tech tools like coding in Scratch and Geogebra in ways that enhance their mathematical intuition, and use online collaboration in problem solving to great effect; she makes learning maths into a process of experimentation and discovery.

Irene is generously sharing her learning with other teachers: through delivery of CPD content modules as local facilitator, support for local Lesson Study networks of teachers, presentations at teacher conferences, peer learning groups, and an NCCA summer school for teachers, and collaboration with NCCA in course content creation.

Teaching in a DEIS school, Irene “believes that everyone can learn maths - no child is left out. She loves to stretch students and give them creative freedom and is not bound by curriculum”: she organises weekly ‘Brain Tickler’ challenges in school; runs Maths and Coding clubs on a voluntary basis; brings outside speakers to promote STEM and encourages students to participate in events that promote Mathematics - Student Leadership and Mathematics in TCD; Maths Sparks in UCD; Trinity Walton Club; Pangea Maths competition.

Student: “I was always amazed that this teacher could instantly see how a student was approaching a question and comprehend what the student was trying to do. She’d never ask the student to change their method and instead would mould herself to fit the students’ ideas and nudge them in the right direction. This was great.” … “I see now in college that I have a big advantage because of the way I learned Maths in school - being able to share ideas, having real understanding and enjoying the excitement of the beauty of it all -thanks to this teacher.”

Breda Disney from Patrician Secondary School, Newbridge.

A free boys school next to an elite fee-paying school, the Patrician Secondary School, Newbridge draws pupils because of opportunities to develop a love of maths. Breda Disney is at the heart of this process. She stretches the students beyond the normal school curriculum by successfully leading all year groups in local, national and international maths competitions. She also reaches out to other schools to enter the various competitions thus creating networks of teachers promoting maths. “

Breda Disney teaches for understanding emphasizing logical, proof-based thinking, joining the dots across curriculum when needed. She leads creative, investigative and group-work based lessons. “Many of her students go on to study maths related courses in college thus ensuring many mathematicians into the future!"

Student nomination: “Breda Disney opened our eyes to the deep underlying beauties in the “simple intricacies” of mathematics. This completely changed my experience of maths, it helped me see it as the elegant language that it is.”

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