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Executive Committee

NABMSE is the only education management body whose sole focus is Special Educational Needs.

Team Biographies.

Patricia Harrington


Patricia is a member of the NABMSE Executive Committee since January 2010 and its Chairperson since early 2022. She currently serves as a community member on the Board of Management of Cara Junior School, Cork. Patricia was Principal of the School of Divine Child, Cork from 2001 until her retirement in 2022. Patricia’s first teaching jobs were in mainstream schools in Dublin (special class and 5th class) before moving to special education in Cork. Patricia was Arts Officer, Cork Institute of Technology (MTU) from 1995 - 2001 and administrator of Graffiti Theatre Company in 1987-1988. Patricia has participated on a range of committees including the NCCA Council, Cork Music Partnership, Cork City Lifelong Learning Festival, Chairperson of the Board of Graffiti Theatre Company, Project officer Cork Education Centre and Summer course facilitator with INTO. Patricia represents NABMSE on the Primary Education Forum.

Mary Crawford


Mary is a Patron’s nominee to the Setanta School Board of Management and is Chairperson of Cloonanaha Primary School Board of Management, Co Clare. Mary served as Principal of St Joseph’s Secondary School, Spanish Point, Co. Clare (2000-2018) having previously taught at Rice College, Ennis and Coolmine Community School, Dublin. She was a member of The Governing Authority of National University Galway. Mary also was Director of The Secretariat of Voluntary Secondary Schools (JMB), was Chairperson of The Association of Management of Catholic Secondary Schools and Chairperson of The JMB National Conference. Mary is passionate about inclusive education and was responsible for the inclusion of a state-of-the-art Special Education Facility at St. Josephs Spanish Point. She is an experienced facilitator and leads a number of community integration initiatives. Recently nominated to NABMSE, she looks forward to working with all the partners in supporting the education of students with special needs.

Mark Shinnick

Honorary Secretary

Mark is a native of County Cork and graduated from Carysfort College of Education in 1984. He worked for 15 years in a DEIS Junior school in Dublin 24 which included the role of Special Class Teacher for children with Mild Learning difficulties. Mark worked as a Special Education Teacher in Enable Ireland Sandymount for 4 years and in 2002 was appointed Principal of Rutland Street Project in Sean McDermott Street Dublin 1, the only stand-alone pre-school funded by the Department of Education and Skills. The school was set up in 1969 as an early intervention programme to prevent school failure. In 2016 with the support of NCSE the school opened a special class for preschool children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Mark was appointed as a member of NABMSE Executive Committee in November 2020.

Des Cullen

Honorary Treasurer

Des has been Principal of Moyne Community School, which is a large mainstream second level school in North Longford, since 2009. He has been an Associate with the PDST Leadership Misneach programme for several years and is a CSL Mentor and Cara. Previously a woodwork teacher, Des has a Masters in Educational Leadership, a Certificate in Special and Inclusive Education and a BA in Public Management. He was appointed to the NABMSE Executive Committee in November 2021.

Greg Browne


Greg is Principal of Catherine McAuley Special School, Limerick since 2009 and has been on the Staff since 1983. The school has a staff of 55 and caters for 240 pupils with Mild and Borderline Mild General Learning Disabilities. Greg has a B.Ed from St. Mary’s Marino; M.Ed In ICT in Education from Mary Immaculate College, Limerick; Diploma in Special Education from Mary Immaculate College, Limerick; Diploma In Management and Industrial Relations from the National College of Ireland. He has had several articles published on topics in Special Education. Greg is presently doing a Diploma in Education Law from The Law Society Of Ireland.

Éilis Dillon


Éilis is Administrative Principal of St. Cecilia’s School, Sligo, since 2004 and has been a member of NABMSE Executive Committee since 2005. She was previously a Teaching Principal in a Mainstream school for eleven years and a primary school teacher in a variety of classes. Éilis has a B.Ed from Carysfort College, a Masters in Education from Mary Immaculate College, Limerick as well as a post graduate qualification in facilitation with NUIG. Éilis has over twenty five years’ experience in facilitation and presentation within the education sector having been seconded to School Development Planning, Special Education Support Service (SESS), National Induction Programme (NIPT) and OIDE. She has been a member of Sligo Education Management Committee, Chairperson District 4 INTO and worked as a guest lecturer on the SNA Certificate Course with St. Angela’s College, Lough Gill, Sligo. Éilis was previously Chairperson and Secretary of NABMSE.

Dr. Helen Heneghan


Helen has broad experience of teaching and lecturing in Ireland, Scotland and America. Helen is Director of Drumcondra Education Support Centre and a former principal of special and mainstream schools. Helen is passionate about lifelong learning and has a Masters in Educational Leadership, and postgrad diplomas in Management, Educational Administration and Curriculum Studies. In 1999, Helen moved to Scotland and lectured on the M Ed, B Ed and TQFE, (Teaching Qualification for FE) in Aberdeen University. In 2008, she worked with schools delivering differentiation in Houston, Texas. In 2012, Helen returned to Dublin and worked as a lecturer and MEd/PME Supervisor in TCD and in MIE whilst completing a PhD on Differentiated Reading. From 2015-2016, she was Head of Literacy and Numeracy in Hibernia College. For several years, she served on the committee of the Literacy Association of Ireland before joining the NABMSE Executive Committee and the NCCA Primary Language Development Group. Helen is passionate about inclusive education and differentiation.

Frances Kerry-La Rosa

Deputy Principal

Frances is Deputy Principal since 2007, at Mountmellick Community School in Co. Laois, which is a large DEIS school. She has a B.A. Hons & H. Dip. Ed. from NUIM; Diploma in Leadership & Community Development and Diploma in Education Management. Frances is also a member of the following boards / executive committees: Mountmellick Youth Development Centre – Family Resource Centre, the Parenting & Technology Institute and the Family Forum Planning Group for the Barrow Children’s Disability Network. As a parent of a young child with Autism, Frances has the insight into what it is like for a family navigating the various services and supports that are instrumental to the education and quality of life for children with special educational needs. Recently nominated to NABMSE, she looks forward to working with all stakeholders in supporting the education of students with special needs.

Michelle McHugh


Upon graduating from St Nicholas Montessori Teacher Training College, Michelle began her teaching career in St Mary’s Special School, Johnstown, Navan. She gained a wide and varied experience over the next 16 years, working with students with severe to profound general learning disabilities and moderate general learning disabilities. She was also given the responsibility for the setting up a new ASD class within the school. In 2011 Michelle moved to Drogheda ABACAS Special School for Children with Autism & Complex Needs and was appointed to the role of Principal in 2013. Michelle holds a Graduate Diploma in Special Education Needs and more recently completed an Advanced Diploma in Law and Education.

Caroline Quinn


Caroline Quinn is a recently retired Principal at Our lady of Good Counsel GNS in Johnstown, Killiney 2006 – 2022. This mainstream school has 450 pupils and three classes for ASD pupils since 2011. Caroline served on the National Primary Curriculum Support Team from 1999-2003, providing in-service training to schools on several aspects of the Primary Curriculum. She served as Lecturer in Education in the Marino Institute of Education, in the areas of literacy and Drama education from 2003-2006, and is currently working there part-time. Caroline is also serving on the IPPN Leadership Support Team, with a particular interest in inclusive and special education in schools. Caroline is currently a member of NABMSE Executive Committee and served as Chairperson 2020-2021.

Caroline Sheill


Caroline has been Principal of St. Michael’s House Special National School in Ballymun since December 2021. St Michael’s House is a school for students with a moderate or severe/profound intellectual disability and many with additional needs. She was previously Deputy Principal and part of the team which opened a new school in Dublin 15 for children with autism spectrum disorder. Caroline was a class teacher for 15 years in a special school for children with a mild intellectual disability and previously worked in Special Education in a mainstream setting. She was nominated to the NABMSE Executive Committee in October 2023.

Helena Trench


Helena is Principal of Powerstown ETNS, since it was established in 2011. Powerstown ETNS is an inclusive, diverse school in Dublin 15 with sixteen mainstream classes and five special classes. Four of those are for children with autism and one class is for children with Developmental Language Disorder. Helena has a BEd from Froebel College, and a BSc Technology in Education from Trinity College. Helena and her team continue to work to achieve an inclusive and neuro-affirmative environment for the Powerstown school community.

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