John Lonergan visit

February 23, 2017

Respect is and always has been an integral part of life in Kennedy College. The school vision
“Together we learn for life”
and our Mission Statement are clear on this

“Kennedy College seeks to offer an inclusive holistic education, where respect and responsibility are fostered. We encourage all students to develop a sense of self-worth, so they can reach their full potential in order to meet the diverse needs of society.”

In 2013, at a school Strategy Team Meeting, it was agreed by staff that RESPECT was the core issue for educators. So began Kennedy Colleges RESPECT Initiative. Each year, since then, Kennedy College hold a RESPECT week where we highlight the need for respect – respect for ourselves, respect for others, respect on school, in our homes and in our communities.

This year, three members of the local community were invited to come to the school and talk to students about respect in their three respective roles.
Fire Station Officer, Cyril McGarr, Junior Liaison Officer with An Garda Síochána, Niall O’Donnell and Councillor (and past pupil)) Michael Sheehan each talked to our students about RESPECT in our community, RESPECT for authority and its importance in sport, and RESPECT and Social Media.

Kennedy College were also keen to include parents in our RESPECT Initiative. Councillor Michael Sheehan agreed to invite John Lonergan to our school on Tuesday February 14 to share with us his thoughts on Respect

The former Governor of Mountjoy Jail entertained parents, students, teachers and guests alike. He delivered an impromptu, relaxed, thought provoking and highly humorous talk on the importance of RESPECT in each of our lives. John shared his experiences in a very entertaining way.

After introducing himself as a Bansha man, John shared what RESPECT has meant for him. He began by saying that everyone needed to feel heard, not just listened to but really heard. Although we listen all the time, we may not always actually hear what another person is saying. To be respectful of someone is to hear what they are really saying.

To people in authority, John emphasised the importance of RESPECT in dealing with others. Recalling his time as Governor, he spoke of not making things any more difficult on people than they already were. He also made the point that, how we, as people in authority, react to situations determines what will happen next.

He asked that people not be judgemental, either of others or themselves saying that everyone has the right to be who they are and to be respected for who they are. He recalled a story about a youngster coming home from school to tell his parents how he got 19 out of 20 in his spelling test only to be asked which spelling did he get wrong!! He also reminded us of our habit of, on hearing about the birth of a new baby, asking “what weight was she?” ready immediately to make a comparison!

Positivity and praise, John told us was far more beneficial and helpful as a motivator. Being nice and kind in our dealings with others has joint benefits. We can feel better about ourselves. John suggested that being nice all the time can be hard work and that people who are nice all the time are trying hard!
Speaking specifically to our students, John asked that they, above all, do nothing that they themselves, do not want to do. Peer pressure to get involved in drugs and alcohol can be strong and our students need to be careful to always make the right decision for themselves.

John’s talk was clear and simple. He spoke of things that we all already know. We have always known them. They are obvious. The thing is that, as human beings, we need constant, every day reminders, all of us!

Kennedy College would like to thank John sincerely for giving so freely of his time. He was a breath of fresh air for his audience. His visit was much appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed by all.

We would also like to thank Councillor Michael Sheehan for his time and efforts in making the John Lonergan Talk happen. Thanks also to Cyril McGarr and Niall O’Donnell for their great contribution.

Finally, thanks to all the Kennedy College Staff for their constant help and support in keeping our RESPECT Initiative alive and to the students who have engaged so positively with the initiative.

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