22 May 2022

Major award for Derry teacher

St Mary's Ms Rice is IT Educator of the Year

Major award for Derry teacher

Mr. Brendan McGinn, acting principal, St. Mary’s College presenting Mrs. Roisin Rice with the award. Photograph by Jim McCafferty Photography

A Derry teacher has received a major award.

Acting vice-principal at St. Mary’s College, Roisin Rice, has received the British Computer Society’s prestigious ‘Northern Ireland IT Educator of the Year’.

She has been in education for almost 20 years with the last seven spent in St. Mary’s inspiring the girls to become the next generation of digital whizz-kids.

Ms Rice completed her undergraduate degree at Queen’s University Belfast and during postgraduate education began studying ICT. Her teaching career saw her take up posts in Religious Education and ICT before obtaining a Masters Degree in 2010 also from Queen’s University.

Ms. Rice says “Completing my Masters degree further ignited my passion for working in this area.

“When I joined the teaching staff of St. Mary’s College in 2013, I was employed as a teacher of Religious Education, however, I was keen to contribute my skills and expertise in the area of ICT and Computing and became involved in the Microsoft Expert Educator Programme.

“I am passionate about working with teachers to improve learning, share good practice, develop a sustainable digital strategy and promote excellence in learning and teaching using digital technology.”

Ms Rice the support from St Mary's principal, Marie Lindsay, pushed her that extra mile in submitting an application for the school to become a ‘Digital Schoolhouse.’

“I’ve been teaching ICT for almost all of my career and I am passionate about being an educator and always looking out for new and innovative ways to teach and inspire the young people that I work with, especially using ICT and Digital Technologies.

“On hearing about a programme called Digital Schoolhouse that focuses on using play-based learning to teach computational thinking skills and computing by providing workshops for local primary schools and their teachers, I just knew that it would be perfect for St Mary’s College.

“As I said, our Principal is an extremely innovative leader and when I explained how the programme works we decided to submit an application for St Mary’s College to become a Digital Schoolhouse.’’

After a lengthy and rigorous application procedure St. Mary’s College was awarded ‘Digital Schoolhouse’ status, and became only one of five in Northern Ireland at the time.

Ms Rice added: “Since launching our Digital Schoolhouse over a year ago, nearly 900 primary school children and over 60 teachers had taken part in the exciting and fun-filled programme and it has been the most enjoyable and rewarding year of my teaching career.

“It’s wonderful to welcome primary school students and their teachers to St Mary’s.

“Our own students benefit as well as they help out with the workshops, thus gaining valuable skills and experiences working with younger children and also developing their own computational thinking abilities.”

It was during last year’s programme that Ms. Rice met Dr Irene Bell, Chair of the Northern Ireland Computing at Schools and the Regional Academic Lead for Digital Schoolhouse. Dr. Bell supported and encouraged Roisin and the other participants on their Digital Schoolhouse journey.

“This is my very first award from industry and I am absolutely thrilled to have received it. I am grateful to Dr Bell for nominating me. We look forward to beginning our second year as a Digital Schoolhouse and are once again fully booked up for this year.”

Acting principal at St Mary's College, Brendan McGinn, paid tribute to his colleague.

“We are absolutely delighted for Roisin and it comes as no surprise.

“She has been a strong advocate for the effective use of IT in the classroom and as a practitioner, this award is thoroughly deserved.

“She has accumulated huge experience in this area and continues to be a role model for us all at St Mary’s College.”

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