Teachers Inspire Ireland 2022

2021 Stories

A safe spaceGiving students space to grow

Without Liz I don’t think I would have got into college.

Gerard Kelly does not hesitate to credit his art teacher Liz Kett for influencing his ongoing education and said, “without Liz I don’t think I would have got into college.”

Gerard went to Grennan College, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny at the start of the noughties and said she provided a safe space for him as he was coming out as a gay teenager in rural Ireland.

“Liz provided a safe space not only for me but for others who were struggling with their identity at the time in Thomastown.”

“Her room was always open, regardless of if it was anything to do with school or subjects, Liz would take you underneath your wing and just make you feel safe and give you space to grow and be yourself.”

“She would inspire you to be the person you were supposed to be,” he added.

He said she was non-judgemental and “just always had your back and she always saw the goodness in you.”

During secondary school Gerard was diagnosed with a specific learning disability and while some people put limits on what they said he could achieve, he said, “Liz never labelled, she said you can be what you want to be. She said that the World is your oyster and the only person that limits yourself is you.”

“Without Liz I don’t think I would have got into college, I don’t think I would have been motivated enough to think I was good enough to get into college.”

She taught Gerard art, nurtured his love of music including playing violin and gave him his first camera.

After secondary school he studied Media Production and Photography in Waterford IT and said, “helped me put together my portfolio for college ”

Gerard said she is very involved in the local community and “salt of the earth is the only way to describe her. She not only inspired me but countless generations that had come before me and hopefully after me too.”