By Charlotte Morrissey
The title 'Meitheal leader' says it all. It comes from the old Irish tradition of Meitheal which was to develop a resilience, adaptive and auto poetic learning community.
There are three Meitheal leaders per class and 12 leaders in total. Our job is to help incoming first years in their transition from sixth class into secondary school. We make sure the students feel that they can come to us with any questions or queries they have and who feel that they can confide in us with any worries they have or about problems that may arise, for example bullying or if they're having difficulty settling in. We attended a training session over a period of two days to help us to gain better knowledge of how to handle any situation that may arise within the first year classes. In this year alone the Meitheal leaders have stopped cases of bullying and upset within the year groups.
On their first day of school, the first years come in with the Meitheal leaders to get a sense of the school and to become familiar with their class groups. It is a very calm day. Ice-breaker games are played within each class to help them to bond and to get to know each other. There are other opportunities for bonding during the year also, for example the trip to Kennedy Park at the start of the year and friendship week.
The reason we became Meitheal leaders is simple. From the experience of having Meitheal leaders as first years, we knew how beneficial they were to us and so we wanted to be able to give that same sense of support back to the new first years as I hope next year's Meitheal leaders will be able to give to your daughters.