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2018 ACT Public Education Award Winners Announced

Congratulations to everyone acknowledged on the night – enjoy the terrific pictures of the event.

The ACT Public Education Awards acknowledge principals, teachers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education leadership, support staff, partnerships and volunteers.

This year’s event was bigger than ever, attracting more than 600 attendees. This is a clear reflection of the exceptional staff working in Canberra public schools, striving to make a difference in students’ lives every day, and acknowledge the hard work of their colleagues.

Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Ms Yvette Berry MLA and ACT Education Directorate Director-General, Natalie Howson congratulated all winners and presented the awards at the ceremony on Thursday 8 November 2018 at Hotel Realm.

Award recipients:

Education Support Person of the Year: Frank Maynard – Gowrie Primary School

No job is too big or too small for Frank. He is active in the engagement of students, working tirelessly to create gardens, green sheds, inclusive playgrounds, as well as specialised equipment which helps students engage in meaningful play. One of his recent projects was converting an unused space into a state-of-the-art facility – rebuilding the kitchen and flooring, painting and even hand-crafting a coffee table. Now known as ‘The Maynard Meeting Room’ it is widely used by staff, students and community members. Frank is a truly valued member of Gowrie Primary and the Directorate.

Volunteer of the Year: Leah House – Namadgi School

Leah has made an ongoing contribution to Namadgi School and ACT public education. For example, each week Leah runs a young women's group where her honest and respectful approach ensures students feel safe and supported. Leah also runs a weekly reading group for Aboriginal students from Kindergarten to Year 2 where her calm and encouraging nature ensures all students make progress and love returning to work on their reading outside of school time. Leah has also helped operate the Namadgi School Indigenous homework club assisting students requiring additional support with their learning across the school. These are just a couple of examples. So many students benefit from time with this proud Ngunnawal/Ngambri woman.

New Educator of the Year: Jennifer Tabur – Lyneham High School

Jennifer is an outstanding new educator who is focused on providing enrichment and engagement opportunities for her students. Jennifer brought her skills as a vocalist to the school’s music theatre program and she co-directed the musical productions in 2017 and 2018, reaching around 200 students in each production. Jennifer also demonstrated her enthusiasm and flexibility as musical director of the large band program. She continually works to improve her pedagogy and skills while working with a band of 137 Year 8 musicians. This year, the band won silver at the Australian National Eisteddfod.

Early Childhood Teacher of the Year: Sharon de Rooy – Bonython Primary School

Sharon’s exemplary practice reflects and demonstrates quality learning, inspirational teaching and leadership and high expectations. Sharon is an advocate and role model for continual learning. Her passion for education in the early years drives her focus and energy to provide the ultimate learning environment for her students. This year, Sharon became part of the Early Learning STEM pilot program. Her work in embedding STEM practices in a preschool program and as an instructional coach has been recognised and Sharon has been invited to be part of a further research project. Her colleagues note ‘as a school, we know we have struck gold in Sharon’.

Primary Teacher of the Year: The judging panel awarded two winners for this category. The joint winners are Anthea Theodoridis and Matthew Weickhard - Gordon Primary School

Anthea and Matthew work closely together and have demonstrated practice that is ‘above and beyond’. They have spearheaded a transformation in the social and psychological wellbeing of students. In 2017, they evaluated the effectiveness of the school’s student wellbeing approaches, and as a result, introduced several initiatives. Anthea focused on establishing a Friendship Hub as an alternative learning and structured play space for students with complex needs and introducing several Bungee Youth Resilience Programs to support students. While Matt focused on initiating the Rock and Water program to actively build student resilience and establishing the PLAYPOD as an alternative learning and play space that promotes student collaboration and cooperation. Through these programs Anthea and Matt have inspired a change of mindset within the school, focused on supporting students.

Secondary Teacher of the Year: Janet Richardson – University of Canberra High School Kaleen

Janet is a highly dedicated and outstanding science and agriculture teacher. She willingly mentors and supports staff and is an early adopter of new initiatives and technologies. Her contribution to the school and broader community as farm manager is her biggest legacy. Murnong Farm has become a showpiece for excellence in public education. Students are involved through the farm club and initiatives like ‘Cows Create Careers’. There are also students who have found ‘their place’ in farm club and whose wellbeing has benefited significantly due to the rapport they have with Janet.

Outstanding Partnership of the Year: Andrew Kingston of Kids Hope Mentoring and Isabella Plains Early Childhood School

Kids Hope is a mentoring program aimed at developing emotional and social resilience in children, thereby enhancing their capacity to learn. Andrew has been coordinating this program since 2010 with more than 25 children mentored. The team of mentors make a difference to children with each visit - spending time together guided by the child's needs and interests be that solar robots, Lego launchers, or teddy habitats. This gives mentors time to chat with the child, helping to build confidence and resilience. The mentors also build relationships with families. Kids Hope has become an integral school community partnership.

Leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education: Kelly Pulver – Evatt School

Kelly is described by her colleagues as ‘just amazing’, hardworking, caring, and highly knowledgeable in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and protocol. Kelly has implemented the 8 ways pedagogy, which enables teachers to include Aboriginal perspectives by using Aboriginal learning techniques and is coaching her colleagues in this approach. Kelly has invited local Aboriginal Elders to work with her students which has improved and strengthened the school’s relationships within this community, deepened students’ connection to their culture and created an ethos of respect. This has resulted in students’ improved school attendance, social and emotional wellbeing, engagement and learning.

School Leader of the Year: Cheryl Diggins – Instrumental Music Program

Cheryl has had a huge impact on the growth of arts events and learning across our schools, developing a range of programs to enhance arts education. This includes specialist programs such as vocal artists and art and dance workshops and reinvigorating the Arts Up Front conference to deliver professional development in contemporary arts to specialist and generalist teachers. As Production Manager of Limelight, Cheryl goes above and beyond, undertaking any task from liaising with sponsors, arts companies and national institutions to hanging art work and sewing costumes. Cheryl has ensured the programs are accessible for all ACT public schools including specialist schools. It is all about the opportunity – a key word for Cheryl in building programs and performances.


The ACT Education Directorate acknowledges the contribution of our sponsor - Teachers Mutual Bank.

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