Mary is an accomplished researcher, author and lecturer. Her career in early childhood education and care began in 1999 when she established her own childcare setting in Limerick City Ireland. In 2005, Mary returned to education in 2005 and completed a graduate diploma in ECEC, a Masters degree and a Ph.D. between 2005 and 2011. Her work has been influenced by visits to a broad range of countries including Slovenia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand and Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy. Mary believes that childrens' needs and rights are paramount. This viewpoint has been strengthened by her work as a volunteer with refugee children and their families in Greece in 2016, 2017 and 2018 where she worked in a kindergarten and also taught English to children and adults. Mary was awarded a National Teaching Hero Award by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in 2014 in recognition of her work as a lecturer in early childhood education at Mary Immaculate College. Mary is currently chairperson of PLÉ Ireland, the national association of third level institutions offering degree level training in ECEC. She is also the European Convenor of the 'Professionalism in ECEC' special interest group of EECERA.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Mary's professional expertise is in early childhood education policy, inclusion, professional identity and educator well-being, leadership and management. In autumn 2018 Mary will undertake research at the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley where she will work with esteemed researchers and co-directors of the Institute Dr. Marcy Whitebook and Dr. Leah Austin.