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An Interview with Mount Carmel Secondary School Principal Gerard Cullen : Get an insight to his life!


Gerard Cullen: Not your everyday, ordinary principal.. Amelia Arkins

Mount Carmel Secondary School principal Gerard Cullen has not lost touched with his roots. From being a student at the prestigious Belvedere College, becoming an English teacher, being a member of the Progressive Democrats and a community councillor in 2006. You hear of schools being charitable, however Mount Carmel is extremely generous to charities and unfortunate people. Which comes from the schools founders ‘The Sisters of Charity’ who believed in helping the sick and the poor in their battle. A couple of years back after the Tsunami, Cullen was determined to help the victims out. Cullen set to organise a fundraiser to provide boats to help the victims, yet the students weren’t always so ‘giving’ to others and of course many had their doubts as whether this would happen as one boat cost €3,000. A sponsorship card was given to ever student to try and raise thirty euro towards the cause, surprisingly every student raised over that target. The school raised €10,500 and were able to purchase three boats to send over to Sri Lanka. With the recession and budget hitting the education system tremendously, Mount Carmel appears to be overcoming this struggle. As they have raised €39,000, including a donation of €10,000 from the Sisters of Charity and also renting out the school hall to D.I.T. on Bolton Street. They have recently received €240,000 of government funding. With this money Cullen hopes to start building an additional much needed five new class rooms in the New Year. In Cullen’s younger days he used to do

a lot for his community of Newcastle in Lucan. Cullen and his friends ran the local community hall and raised thousands of euros through fundraising and added this to government funding to have the hall refurbished. As a result of this only recently Cullen has been asked to write a chapter in a local history book on the history of the hall as it goes back seventy years. Many students both past and present praise Cullen for his work within the school and community. Former student Kerrie Byrne states ‘Mr Cullen does a lot for the school as well as the students; he’s a one of a kind principal’. Knowing Gerard Cullen for the last six years, this last piece of information slightly shocked me. Cullen was involved in politics a few years back with the Progressive Democrats. Yet, in 2006 he had a difficult choice to make as he was chosen to become principal of the school, should he stay on as counsellor or should he start his new career as principal? In the end Cullen decided to leave his post as councillor and began his job as a principal. Cullen began his teaching career in Mount Carmel Secondary School as an English teacher for seven years, also taking on the role as Home School Community Liaison for two years. Yet two years into his tenure the former principal retired and bravely he went for the job as principal and as he states ‘unfortunately or fortunately, I got that job as principal’ at the tender age of 32.

Strangely enough, there are many ‘great’ aspects of being a principal to an all-girls school. One of the main points Cullen proclaims is ‘being able to put your vision into practise’ also dealing with the parents and students, which at times cannot be pleasant. If money were no object for the school Cullen would put his ‘vision into practise’. The main priority on his list would be to purchase upto-date computers for the school alongside a specific I.T. teacher to teach the class, as Cullen hasn’t got the expertise required himself and this is a necessity.

The next question would be difficult for anyone no matter what profession they are in. If you won the lotto tomorrow, would you stay on a principal or leave? At first, Cullen pauses for a few seconds, ‘I would still do the job, but I have an interest in business. Cullen’s hope for the school in the next five years is the building of extra classrooms and facilities to go ahead. The teaching of computers to become a more dominant subject in the school criteria, and help the Leaving Certificate results to improve and more students to go onto third level, Cullen proclaims ‘students now have more confidence in themselves to go onto third level’.

The Future, an Educational Magazine  
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