Parents’ Evening – The Chairman’s Presentation

Here are some of the items presented at the Parents’ Evening on October 8th, 2015:

FROM OUR CHAIRMAN – A Brief History of The Children’s House

The Children’s House, Thornhill, on Lower Kilmacud Road was established in 1952 by Veronica Ryan, who had started a class in her home with six pupils two years earlier. She trained as a Montessori teacher at Sion Hill in Blackrock, Dublin….

… and as interest in Montessori  spread she decided to build her own school. She travelled to Holland to study and photograph existing Montessori schools there and became friendly with Mario Montessori (Maria’s son), who gave her advice. The architect Arthur Douglas designed the Children’s House on the grounds of Veronica’s home (Homefield next door) and it was the first purpose built Montessori school in Ireland.

Numbers at the school rose quickly as news spread fast and they never had to advertise. However, Veronica (or Ms. Ryan as she was known) died from pneumonia in April 1966, aged 45 yrs. The Ryan family wanted to continue their sister Veronica’s visionary work and so stepped in and set up a company and Board of Governors to run the school that was made up of parents, members of the Ryan family and their advisors.

 Micaela Kuh, the current principal, took over as Principal of the Children’s House in 2006 and has brought the school to the next stage of its development. Firstly, a second 3-6 yr classroom was added to the school and more recently Micaela, with her international background and training, introduced the 9-12 yr Montessori stage to the Senior Class, having done this at other schools in Australia and the U.S. Due to the popularity of this cycle, continuing the primary stage up to 12 yrs, the Board of the school, under the chairmanship of Ann Cuffe Fitzgerald (an architect and past pupil of the school) and with a generous bursary from Clem Ryan (Veronica’s brother), a new classroom was added, and additional staff & storage areas. Micaela and her team of 7 directresses have introduced materials, cultural work and outings appropriate to the children’s ages and continue the work of the school’s founder Veronica Ryan.

The Board is made up of a mixture of past pupils, past and current parents who bring a wide range of experiences and skills to the Board. In many cases individuals will have previously volunteered to help the school in some way and as a result will be invited to join the Board, subject to approval by the Board.

Also it is also a good idea to have parents’ members from both the Junior and Senior Classes and this is evident from the current make up where we have both Junior and Senior Class parents and some who cover both!

Generally there are 4 board meetings a year that the Principal Ms. Kuh attends and updates the board by way of a Principal’s report. There would also be a lot of communication with board members and between the Chairperson and the Principal on day-to-day issues that arise from time to time e.g. dealing with the neighbours on the parking issue!

Generally where parents have a question or want to raise an issue we would encourage that they speak to the child’s teacher or the Principal who will bring it to our attention where necessary and we can assist in dealing with it – that may mean of course direct contact with the parent.

Parents should also feel that they could contact myself or one of the other Board members on issues that they would like to bring to the Board’s attention.

As a non-for-profit organisation it is run on a break-even basis and all fees go towards the running of the school, salaries, maintenance, equipment etc.

  • Whilst there is some discretion on where the monies are spent most expenditure would be approved by the Board.
  • We are assisted on the finance side by Larry Behan who is a qualified chartered accountant and who does the payroll, prepares the accounts and keeps an eye on the finances.
  • Accounts are audited every year by KPMG and accounts are available in the companies office.
  • A significant part of the Board’s brief is to make sure that we have sufficient numbers of pupils coming to and remaining in the school.
  • Thanks to all the efforts of parents recommending the school and of course Ms. Kuh and all the staff, we are delighted that the numbers for this year are very high.
  • The parents are very important of course to the school, particularly those who are new or relatively new to the school.
  • We are very conscious of people who will not know anybody when they arrive – it’s not just the children who can be nervous! With evenings like these and the recent coffee mornings hopefully people will get to know each other
  • Whilst of course people are working and have busy lives volunteering for school outings is a good idea or offering to help in some way with some of the activities can help too.
  • We are constantly reviewing how the school operates and particularly in recent years decisions have been made to expand both the school and the opportunities for those families that want to remain in the Montessori method of teaching all the way to secondary school.
  • Recommend discussing any questions that you have with parents of children in both the 6-9 and 9-12 classes-also take the opportunity to observe the classes as this is often invaluable.

David Bell, Chairman of the Board