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Committee Structure

Main Object

The Literacy Association of Ireland (LAI) aims to support and inform those concerned with the development of literacy nationally and internationally (teachers and educators at all levels and in a variety of formal and informal settings), encourage them in reflection and dialogue, challenge them in their practice and give public voice to their concerns through organising bilingual events such as conferences, seminars, workshops, courses, and webinars.

Committee structure:

The committee is elected on an annual basis at the Annual General Meeting, which occurs during the Autumn Conference. All current members are eligible to vote.

Current Committee:

Officers

President: Clara Maria Fiorentini 

Assistant Lecturer in Education (Literacy), Department of English & Roinn na Gaeilge, Marino Institute of Education, Dublin.

Clara Maria Fiorentini has been lecturing in literacy and early childhood education in Marino Institute of Education since 2017. Prior to this, Clara taught for eleven years in an urban, DEIS primary school in Co. Dublin, Ireland. Clara provides CPD for primary teachers and early childhood professionals in the areas of literacy, children's literature, play based learning and school transitions. Clara completed a Masters in Children's Literature (DCU) in 2013 and is currently completing her PhD research on preschool literacy practices at Trinity College Dublin. 

Clara is interested in promoting the use of the read-aloud and high-quality children's literature to support language and literacy instruction in the early years and the primary classroom. She is the co-author of Sounds Like Phonics (2019).

Clara has been an executive committee member of LAI since 2019 and has coordinated the association's website and social media responsibilities since 2020.

President Elect: Patrick Burke

Assistant Professor in the School of Language, Literacy and Early Childhood Education, DCU Institute of Education. 

Prior to joining the faculty at DCU, Patrick worked as a primary school teacher, advisor with the Professional Development Service for Teachers and as a Lecturer at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. He also spent a year working in the Children’s Literature Centre at Frostburg State University, Maryland. He is the current chairperson of the NCCA Primary Language Development Group and a member of the editorial board of Literacy, published by UKLA. 

Patrick is engaged in a range of research projects relating to literacy and education more broadly. This includes Erasmus+ funded research on the role of artificial intelligence in literacy development and research funded by the NCCA focusing on curriculum integration. He is also particularly interested in inclusive practice for children who encounter difficulties in literacy acquisition. Tá suim ar leith aige sa churaclam comhtháite agus i dtraschur scileanna ó theanga go teanga.

Patrick has been an executive committee member of LAI since 2020 and membership secretary since 2021. He served on several LAI conference committees, including the local organising committee for the 2022 European Conference on Literacy held in DCU.

Past President: Claire Dunne

Head of the Department of English and the Department of Irish, Marino Institute of Education, Dublin.

Claire delivers lectures in the area of Irish language and literacy. She has given in-service training to teachers in this area too. She is the author/co-author of two handbooks on reading for pleasure in Irish: Scéalta den Scoth: Ag Cothú Fonn Léitheoireachta and An Bosca Leabharlainne: Bímis ag Léamh!

Claire is very interested in encouraging reading for pleasure in Irish, developing plurilingual capacities in young children, and inclusive language teaching.

Claire has previously acted as Treasurer of the LAI (2020-2022), and President (2022-2023),

Treasurer: Miriam Colum

Senior Lecturer in Education and Head of the Department of Inclusion, Religious Education and Student Life in Marino Institute of Education, Dublin.

Miriam Colum, Phd, is a former primary school teacher with experience in both mainstream and special school settings. Prior to joining MIE, Miriam was a lecturer in St. Angela’s college, Sligo, on the Postgraduate Diploma in Special Educational Needs (PGSEN). She also co-coordinated the nationwide level 7 course for Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) and was the module leader for the blended course on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Her current research interests are focused on inclusion; special educational; national and international special education policies; school leadership; distributed leadership; role of the Special Needs Co-Ordinator in primary schools; Diversity in teaching; Traveller education and Foucauldian theory.  She completed her PhD in 2023 at the University of Galway by conducting qualitative research on the importance of a distributed leadership approach to support the inclusion of children with emotional and behavioral difficulties in primary schools in Ireland.

Miriam sits on the Consultative forum of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and is a member of the editorial board for the REACH Journal of Inclusive Education in Ireland.

 


Secretary: Róisín Ní Mhúlláin

An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta

Prior to working as Education Officer with COGG Róisín was an Irish lecturer in St. Angela’s College, Sligo for fifteen years, delivering lectures in the area of Irish language, academic content and literacy. She worked as a primary school teacher in an Irish medium setting, with junior and senior classes. 

Research / literacy interests: Children’s literature in Irish, reading for pleasure in Irish and teenage literature in Irish.

Tá an-spéis ag Róisín sa churaclam chomhtháite, teagasc agus cleachtais léitheoireachta sa Ghaeilge, agus i gcur chun cinn na léitheoireachta i measc déágóirí agus déaglitríocht.

This is Róisín’s first year on LAI executive committee

Members

Jennifer O'Sullivan

Lecturer in Education (Literacy) in the Department of English and Roinn na Gaeilge, Marino Institute of Education, Dublin.

Prior to joining Marino Institute of Education, Jennifer worked as a primary teacher. She completed a Masters in Reading (DCU) and her PhD (TCD) focused on the development of children’s phonemic awareness in infant classrooms. She is the co-author of Sounds Like Phonics and the author of A Sound Beginning for Reading. In 2021, Jennifer was awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award and spent three months researching in the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) in Florida State University. In 2022, Jennifer received funding to develop an early years literacy assessment tool - ALPACA. 

Jennifer’s research interests include early reading development, reading assessment, reading difficulties and developing teacher content knowledge in the area of literacy. She also has a strong interest in the use of picturebooks to support literacy development and visual literacy.

Jennifer is a past president of the LAI (2020-2021) and has been a member of the executive committee since 2012.

Cillian O'Sullivan

Cillian is an assistant principal at Douglas Rochestown Educate Together National School, in Cork, where he holds school-wide responsibilities for language and literacy instruction (English and Gaeilge). He also currently teaches Senior Infants. 

Cillian completed undergraduate degrees in education and psychology, and a postgraduate degree in literacy education. He spent a year working as a graduate assistant for the Literacy Department at West Chester University, Pennsylvania. He also has experience working as a research assistant and undergraduate dissertation supervisor for the Department of Educational Psychology, Inclusive and Special Education at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. In addition, he has spent time tutoring children who encounter difficulties in literacy acquisition, while working with the Dyslexia Association of Ireland. 

At present, Cillian’s research interests include reading comprehension, text-based discussions, and the role of executive functioning skills in reading and writing. He is also very interested in cross-lingual transfer and inclusive literacy pedagogy. 

This is Cillian's first year serving on the LAI executive committee.

Regina Dunne

Regina is Deputy Principal of St Catherine’s National School, Rush, Co Dublin. She currently teaches 6th class. 

Regina has  taught at all class levels and in SET and EAL roles. She  was seconded to the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) from 2015 to 2019 and held the role of  National Team Leader for Primary Literacy. Previously, she  was Academic Coordinator for English Language teaching and Learning at the Applied Language Centre, University College Dublin where she was Course-coordinator for the Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (in conjunction with the Higher Diploma in Education) and for the Higher Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Adults. She  spent a total of eight years in a variety of TESOL  roles teaching English in Spain, Sweden and Japan.

Regina’s interests  include teacher professional learning,  literacy leadership and EAL.

Regina  is a past president of the LAI (2021-2022) and was a  member of the FELA/LAI organising committee for the 2022 European conference on Literacy held in Dublin. She has been a member of the executive committee since 2019. She facilitated LAI’s summer courses for teachers in 2021 and 2022.

Gene Mehigan

Vice President for Education & Strategic Development, Marino Institute of Education

Gene has been a primary school teacher, a literacy specialist, an educational consultant, and a teacher educator over the past thirty years. He completed his Master’s in Education at St Patrick’s College, Dublin and was awarded his PhD in Education from University College Cork. His research interests are in teacher education, early literacy development and struggling readers, particularly among children living in disadvantaged settings. Gene is a member of a wide range of academic, professional and administrative committees at a regional and national level. He has worked in The Gambia as a Government advisor to the Department of State for Education on the development of a sector wide approach for the reform of literacy education and serves as a board member and consultant for a number of education and policy organisations. He is past President of both the Literacy Association of Ireland (LAI) the Irish Learning Support Association and a former chair of the Standing Committee of Heads of Education and Teacher Unions. 

Sylvaine Ní Aogáin

irín Wilson

Tara Concannon Gibney (FELA rep.)

Assistant Professor in the School of Language, Literacy and Early Childhood Education, DCU Institute of Education. 

Tara is a former primary school teacher. While she was teaching, she completed an MEd in Literacy and a PhD that focused on the teaching of reading comprehension. Since being awarded her PhD in 2009, Tara has published widely in peer-reviewed journals such as Literacy, The Reading Teacher and Professional Development in Education. She is also author of  Teaching Eseential Literacy Skills in the early Years: A Guide for Teachers and Students (Routledge).

Tara’s research interests include meaningful literacy teaching in the early years, reading comprehension instruction, literacy for EAL learners and teacher professional development in literacy.

Tara first joined the executive committee member in 2004 and has served as president of LAI twice (in 2008/9 and 2018/9). She is the current Irish representative for FELA.

Adrian Lohan

Susan Nic Réamoinn

Assistant Lecturer in Education (Literacy) in the Department of English and Roinn na Gaeilge, Marino Institute of Education.

Susan has been lecturing in literacy and early childhood education in Marino Institute of Education since 2021.  She qualified as a primary teacher in 2008 (DCU, St Patrick’s College), and completed an MSc. i nGnó agus i dTeicneolaíocht an Eolais in 2011 (DCU, Fiontar).

Susan worked as an Education Officer (Language) with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment for three years on the Primary Language Curriculum. 

Susan is interested in language development in early childhood education and the use of digital resources to support children’s first and second language learning. 

This is Susan's first year serving on the LAI executive committee. 

Maureen Colleran

About LAI

To read our Mission Statement or to find out more about our background, click on the links below. 

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