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The Grove Nursery School, Armagh


 It is often said that a school’s greatest resource is the staff. We, in The Grove, work very much as a ‘team’  and are proud of the school’s resources, the setting, the progress made by the children and the high reputation in which we are held by past pupils, parents, other settings and the wider community.

Introducing Our Staff- things to help you get to know us!


Mrs Thompson, B. Ed.  D.A.S.E.    Principal
Mrs Thompson, B. Ed. D.A.S.E. Principal

Mrs Joan Thompson has been Principal of The Grove since 2011, having previously been Principal of a nursery school in Newtownabbey for eight years. Since graduating from Stranmillis College.  Mrs Thompson has been involved in every aspect of Nursery Education. She is passionate about making education ‘fun’ for children and creating a happy atmosphere within our nursery. She enjoys the more ‘creative’ or messy activities in school and working with small groups of children (on the ‘fluffy’ mat on the office floor) who need a little extra help with language skills or confidence building.

Mrs T. is the designated Safe Guarding/Child Protection Teacher, as well as SenCo. She puts great importance on supporting the whole family and her door is always open, offering a ‘listening ear’ or as a signpost to other agencies.

In her spare time she enjoys walking Penny, the cocker, in Castle Leslie, cooking for friends, gardening, reading and anything ‘crafty’. She competes with Mrs Rowe to seek out the best coffee shops! Her secret passion is ‘House Magazines’ and her ‘favourite place’ is Brittas Bay Beach, Wicklow, in the early morning or last thing at night (without the tourists).

 She has 3 grown up children, five active grandsons and one spoilt granddaughter !- Oh, and one patient husband who has to share his office with her!

Mrs Debbie Gervais, B. Ed.  Teacher
Mrs Debbie Gervais, B. Ed. Teacher

Mrs Debbie Gervais, has had a lot of experience in Primary and Nursery education,  and joined the team permanently in 2019 having been our regular ’sub’  and temporary staff member for a number of years. Alongside her busy role in school she looks after her husband and three teenagers, Peter, Ellen and Patrick.  Another graduate from Stranmillis University College.

 Her quiet disposition has a calming effect on an otherwise hectic school day. In school Mrs Gervais is the Deputy Safe Guarding /Child Protection Teacher and she has the additional role to organise our outdoor play, coming up with novel and exciting ways to extend the children’s learning in all areas of the curriculum outdoors. She is always suggesting new purpose built resources, (thanks to Colin and Peter for making these) innovative ways to use existing areas and leads us all in planning and evaluating our provision. She co-ordinates our Physical Development /Movement aspect of the curriculum.  She is also responsible for our home/ school learning links and looks after the SeeSaw programme. She is the technology ‘expert’ on the team- well, she knows more than the rest of us!!

 She has recently become the proud Mum of Odie, the retriever and is  still trying to come to terms with 'puppyhood'!

Her interests outside school include reading, walking, baking and cooking (when she has time) and eating! She embraces country life with hens, sheep, cattle, (not hers) quads and keeps our ‘farmer’ boys informed about the most popular tractors or agricultural machinery- she knows all the correct terminology.

Her secret passion is really a secret (she won’t tell) and her favourite place is any beach in Winter.

A native of Co. Fermanagh, she now lives near Benburb but escapes down to Ballinamallard when she can.

Mrs Louise Rowe, NNEB, NVQ3   Nursery Assistant
Mrs Louise Rowe, NNEB, NVQ3 Nursery Assistant

Mrs Louise Rowe is our longest serving member of staff and she can remember nearly every child and family who has passed through The Grove. She is our resident gardener and cookery advisor, often helping the children to grow, harvest and cook our own vegetables.  Her gentle and caring nature makes her a favourite with the children! She is never in a rush, ensuring that every individual child is listened to, assisted in a task or encouraged to be independent. Her chat with the children over the dinner table is just like that at home!

She has a broad general knowledge regarding clothes/gift/shoe/coffee shops in Northern Ireland – in fact any kind of shop anywhere! She loves ‘wee bargains’ – no matter what the cost – or if she needs it!

 She is a member of Richhill W I and enjoys singing in the choir. Her staring role to date was that of a Boogie Nun in their rendition of ‘Sister Act’.

Other interests include reading and walking coastal paths. She loves caravanning in the holidays- especially at her static on the North Antrim Coast, walking Misty the Spaniel in Tollymore or looking after her nine grandchildren. Her passion is travel and her favourite place in the world is Singapore.

Mrs Sharon Grimley, NVQ3    Nursery Assistant
Mrs Sharon Grimley, NVQ3 Nursery Assistant

Mrs Sharon Grimley is our resident staff advisor regarding hairstyles, beauty and fashion, having previously worked in this profession. She cares for our indoor plants (when she is reminded by the children).  Her sense of fun and keenness to develop spontaneous play which arises during the day, ensure that school is never boring for the children. She readily accesses resources to extend the play and learning experiences.

A Cocka Poo owner, ( Milo) she is ever youthful, ( having to curtail his energy) and being the mum of two young adults, she keeps us informed about current music/clothes trends.

Her interests include Pilates, Yoga, nice ‘long’ walks especially in Gosford and taking part in runs. These activities, she admits make her "sound fit but I’m not!" Her secret passion is sampling different coffee shops or a day “in jammies with the fire lit, a good movie and hot chocolate”. Her favourite place is Barcelona- or “anywhere there’s a beach, sunshine and cocktails.”

Mrs Karen Finlay  B.Sc.   Nursery Assistant
Mrs Karen Finlay B.Sc. Nursery Assistant

Mrs Karen Finlay spends most of her day giving individual attention to those children who need a little extra encouragement to ‘settle’ into school, sustain play, attempt new challenges or simply to interact with staff members or peers.   Her gentle and quiet nature and ever patient attitude help all children to blossom under her care. The quieter children develop a bond which helps them to cope with the activity and noise in school and they relax in her company. A  Geography graduate, she advises us about ‘The World Around Us’ aspect of the curriculum and as a mum to three children, Hannah, Peter and Reuben (all past pupils of The Grove) she keeps us up to date  with what is ‘cool’.

Mrs Finlay enjoys baking, drawing, reading and walking “at a gentle pace!”

Her secret passion is Double Deckers (the chocolate bars-not the buses!) and her favourite place is Donegal.

Mrs Janette Carson    Secretary
Mrs Janette Carson Secretary

Mrs Janette Carson is an expert on all things administrative in education, having spent over thirty years working in the SELB. Her advice and wisdom on all matters educational and attention to detail are invaluable.

She keeps the wheels well oiled, resources ordered, finances recorded and banked and Mrs Thompson organised! The children especially love visiting Janette in her 'glass' office or sitting on the special swivel chair. She is unflappable and deals with everything in a gentle and very professional manner. She is usually the voice at the end of the phone, if you ring in the morning or if we need to contact you in an emergency. She will also send you 'little reminders', so don't worry if you forget to return forms, permission slips etc.

Another mum of an ex pupil, Stephen.

Outside school, she enjoys walking, preserving food, bread making, trying out new recipes, all aspects of cookery, music and genealogy. How does she find time to work?

Her favourite place is a little church in Reykjavik, Iceland or anywhere else peaceful or up high in the mountains.

Her secret passion is buying things on line (Andrew- only joking!)


Mrs Christine Martin       Building Supervisor
Mrs Christine Martin Building Supervisor

Mrs Christine Martin commenced in The Grove in September 2016 and really enjoys looking after our school in spite of the chocolate muffins, play dough on the carpet, lentils and glitter we leave for her in the afternoons. She never complains!!

 Christine combines her work in school with being a Special Needs Assistant in The Armstrong Primary and her work in Railway Street Nursery. Always on the go, she puts the rest of us to shame- she hill/mountain walks, especially in the Mournes. Someday soon she’ll conquer Binnian!

A very proud Grandma of Tommy!!

 She is another dog lover and her compassion for strays even extends to cats around the school. To date we have nearly had the Fire and Rescue Service out with their ladders and have made trips to the local vets.

She would love to be able to go for long bike rides but is scared of falling off.

Her favourite place, is of no surprise, the Mourne Mountains and her secret passion? - A glass (no Christine, a bottle) of wine!

Hopefully her enthusiasm and energy will rub off on the rest of the staff.