Monday, September 29, 2014

Doane Stuart School Welcomes Leaders of Peace and Reconciliation from Belfast, Northern Ireland

RENSSELAER, NY - On Tuesday, September 30 at 9:10 a.m. in the Golub Interfaith Chapel, Doane Stuart will welcome Amanda McNamee and Jayne Atkinson, the Principal and Deputy Principal of Lagan College, Belfast’s first Catholic/Protestant merged school in Northern Ireland.  Lagan College was founded in 1981 as a response to the challenge of community conflict and the religiously divided school system in Northern Ireland.  Mrs. McNamee and Mrs. Atkinson will speak to the students, faculty and staff about the ethos that guides their work at Lagan and discuss diversity and interfaith identity.  They also will meet with members of the faculty/staff and observe classes as they learn more about the academic approach and course offerings of an American independent school.  This is their first visit to Doane Stuart. 

In 2003 Doane Stuart, also a Catholic/Protestant merged school, began a partnership with Lagan College.  Seamus Hodgkinson, a native of Belfast and an original Doane Stuart teacher since the 1975 merger, orchestrated this relationship with Lagan.  Through this program, one Catholic and one Protestant student from Lagan College attend Doane Stuart for one year and have the opportunity to experience education not only with Catholics and Protestants, but also with students from many of the world’s religions.   

Each February, students in the Upper School have the opportunity to visit Lagan as part of a 10-day exchange.  Students stay with host families, attend seminars on Irish History and Northern Irish Politics, visit local Universities, and delve into the history of Belfast, The Troubles, and the continuing process of healing.  Students have met with members of the US Embassy, Stormont (the Northern Ireland Parliament), City Officials, and key players in the peace process. Through the Exchange program, Doane Stuart has developed strong ties with Peace Players International and The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education.

Lagan College is today a beacon of hope to others, showcasing that the integration of young people does work and that all children can play, learn and grow together. Doane Stuart, like Lagan, also strives to be a welcoming school for all children; a place that fosters individuality and personal identity.  Both schools promote discussions across cultural, social, political and religious differnces through the teaching of respect, showing fairness, and serving others.   

Additionally, student teachers from the Protestant Stranmillis University College and the Catholic Saint Mary’s University College visit Doane Stuart in the spring as part of their teacher training.

The community of Doane Stuart excitedly welcomes Mrs. McNamee and Mrs. Atkinson on their first visit to Doane Stuart, and we look forward to many years of continued partnership.

No comments:

Post a Comment