The American Irish Teachers Association is an organization of educators and associates who are committed to promoting Irish and Irish American heritage and culture.
When the AITA held its first annual conference in 1976, there was little hope of including discussion concerning Ireland's Great Famine in the New York State curriculum as a mandate. Today, we are proud to be able to say that due to the vision and leadership of past president Ann Garvey, the AITA played a primary role as the initiator of lobbying in Albany for such a curriculum. Thanks to the successful lobbying of Assemblyman (now Congressman) and the brilliant work led by Professors Maureen O. Murphy and Alan Singer of Hofstra University, there exists a stunning one-thousand page NYS mandated curriculum for grades K - 12 on "The Great Hunger". The lessons in this curriculum cover a range of subject areas and include clearly defined aims and standards, and it provides students with a better understanding of not only the history of the Great Famine in Ireland but hunger in a more global context today.
In May of 2010, students in P.S. 158 M performed an original song called "An Gorta Mor" for the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese and other dignitaries at the Mercy Center's Action Corps to End World Hunger, which is adjacent to the Famine Memorial in Battery Park City, NY. The children's song was composed during a series of classes taught by current AITA president, Doris Marie Meyer, and teaching artist in residence, Gabriel Donohue whose great talents as a professional musician and songwriter were employed, thanks to a modest grant from the AITA.