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In Pictures: Warm tributes and well wishes as Laois’s first ever SNA retires

Geraldine Robbins

Laois’s first ever Special Needs Assistant retired from her post yesterday.

Stradbally native Geraldine Robbins brought the curtain down on her 21 year career yesterday – as her school gave her the best send off that they could in the Covid-19 world that we now live in.

A kind and compassionate person, Geraldine became Laois’s first ever SNA when she was appointed to Scoil Aonghusa in Stradbally in 1999.

She worked under principals Sr Mary-Teresa and Dympna McArdle before the school amalgamated with Stradbally BNS in 2010 to form St Colman’s.

After that, Geraldine worked under Padraig Ashe and Cathal Ruane before retiring under Andy Hanrahan.

Geraldine would’ve put hundreds of pupils through her hands over the years – mostly on a one to one basis.

She always focussed on bringing the best out of the child and she instilled major confidence in people that needed it.

While at the same time, she stayed that step away in order to allow the child to learn independently in the best way that they could with their ability.

She gave them the confidence and then allowed them to grow their wings and develop to the next phase of their lives.

Geraldine always managed to find a way to bring out an ability in a child – sometimes abilities that they didn’t even know that they had themselves.

A woman with a keen interest in GAA, originally from Ballyroan, she always threw herself into the sports days.

While her happy disposition helped create the positive environment that exists in the school today.

Colleague Liz Molloy paid a wonderful tribute to Geraldine – who she called ‘a very special friend’.

She said: “I would like to send best wishes to a very special friend of mine Geraldine Robbins.

“Geraldine will be sadly missed by all in St Colman’s. You have helped so so so many in your time.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Geraldine over the last number of years.

“I will hold fond memories of our time together in St Colman’s National School. I wish her a very happy and healthy retirement.”

Principal Andy Hanrahan said that Geraldine was dedicated to the ‘enhancement of a better inclusive education for all pupils’.

He said: “We had the pleasure of wishing Geraldine Robbins every happiness and health as she begins the next phase on life’s journey.

“Geraldine has been a valued member of staff here since 1999 and was dedicated to the enhancement of a better inclusive education for all pupils.

“Geraldine will be missed by all her colleagues and pupils here in St Colman’s NS but I am certain she will enjoy her well earned retirement and we wish her all the very best for a long and fulfilling experience.

“Of course we are looking forward to the homebakes for the staffroom now that she has time!”

While the Parents Council of St Colman’s also paid tribute to Geraldine.

They said: “Wishing Mrs Geraldine Robbins all the very best of health and happiness in her well earned retirement.

“Geraldine was an SNA in Scoil Aonghusa/St. Colmans for the last 21 years, and was very much loved by pupils and parents alike.

“The Parents Council were delighted to make a small presentation today to Geraldine as she embarks on the next chapter.

“Best of luck Geraldine. Happy retirement.”

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