Returning to education was never a burning desire I had. I left school in 1993 fist pumping the air and being told by the principle that I would never amount to anything in my life only a messer. I believed her 100% because in the education system I struggled and was constantly put down so I rebelled by being a messer and left with a very poor education! I swore I would never again return!Peig O Sullivan - testimonialHow wrong I was. My 3 year old daughter attended a Montessori school on high street Killarney. I went to collect her on day and realised I had forgotten to give her something for show and tell. On getting to the door I asked her teacher if she had got upset because she did not have any thing and she told me they asked her to tell them about what she was going to be when she grew up. Lauren (my daughter) informed the school that she wanted to be a burglar just like her mom, then she could eat burgers and chips every day!!! I was content with my life but I wanted better for my daughter. I wanted her to succeed and make something for herself and it dawned on me there and then that I was her role model and if I had dreams and aspirations for her then I needed to show her.
The VTOS office was on high street that time and I went from the school upstairs to the office and met with Mike Garner the co-ordinator at that time. I signed up for my leaving cert and when mike asked me what my goal was I stated I wanted to be a child psychologist, I could not even spell it!!!!

I started in VTOS in September 1997. It was a daunting experience and I had resigned myself to the fact that I would probably drop out, sure I was no good anyway, id never be able for this! After only a few weeks I was doing well. I started to realise that it was not that I was thick, in fact I was more intelligent than I taught, it was the school system that had held me back. VTOS was an intimate setting. Everyone was there for the same reason which made learning easier. The teachers did not only teach as part of their job they encouraged supported and guided you. Because it was a smaller environment I could ask for help, say I didn’t understand without the risk of another student calling you stupid. I succeeded in year one to return for my second year in Sept 1998.
I was excited at the prospect that I would finally be sitting my leaving. In November I discovered that I was expecting. To say it came as a Hugh surprise is an understatement. I decided that I could not sit the leaving as I would be almost due and I decided to drop out. I was devastated as I knew coming back, with two kids to look after, would be too hard. I sat in my car and cried. Mary Harrington came out to me and asked me to make her one promise. To stick with it till the Christmas exams and if I found it to hard I could drop out. I made the promise and with encouragement from all the staff and my friends in VTOS I stuck it out and sat my leaving cert in the summer of 1999 8 months pregnant!
4 weeks later I gave birth to a 9lb 10oz healthy baby boy called Lee.
In January 2000 I was nominated for an award for outstanding excellence in a student, and received the award on the night from Miriam O Callaghan. I was overwhelmed at my own achievement at this point.
I passed my leaving with honours and the staff at VTOS helped me gain entry to a CE scheme in Kerry Parents and Friends with Michael Brosnan. I managed to get 2 years on this and with Michael’sknowledge and support I secured funding to do a part time distance learning Diploma in youth and community work through UCC……me in UCC!!!!!!!!!! I left the CE scheme with my diploma and secured a job in an assessment unit for children with challenging behaviour. I was now an employee of the HSE. Whilst working in Airne Villa the HSE ran a pilot programme that would see a number of staff reskill over the course of 3 years to a level of an honours degree in social care. I, along with half of Munster, sat the interview and got picked for a place in college. Over the next three years I worked full time, now had three kids and studied part time. Whilst in my second year in college I applied for a position advertised for a new family support agency opening in Tralee. This was my goal, to work with families and try and give them a sense of hope and support in adverse situations.  I was successful in my interview and in June 2007 I commenced my role as a family support worker, a dream job that I love more every day.
Last year applied and got accepted to the master’s programme in social care in Tralee IT however due to financial reasons I had to decline the offer. Somedayill return and I can’t wait!!!!
VTOS not only gave me an education, it gave me back the courage to believe in myself,  it gave me the drive that I needed to succeeded , it gave me a wonderful outlook on life and it made me realise there is no such thing as failure you just try your best at what you can.
For where I am in my life today I thank everyone at VTOS!
Anne Margaret O Sullivan (AKA Peig)
PS: Lauren is now 19 and currently is in her second year in college studying applied Social Care….she really meant it when she said at 3 “I want to be just like my mom”!!!!!

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