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Public Education Award winners 2019

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.

We have 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, Meg Brighton congratulated all winners and presented the awards at the ceremony on Thursday 31 October 2019 at Hotel Realm.

Award recipients:

Education Support Person of the Year: Vince Wood – Bonython Primary School

Vince has worked above and beyond expectations, particularly in the sustainability and environmental aspects of his role as Building Services Officer.

Vince has led sustainable practices at the school, including on waste management and water and energy consumption. He actively seeks ways to reduce, reuse and recycle waste across the school.

Vince is a key driver of the school’s participation in the ACT Container Deposit Scheme and recycling of soft plastics. He has been instrumental in the school’s sustainability garden initiative.

Volunteer of the Year: Carol Quashie-Williams – Farrer Primary School

Carol has made an ongoing contribution to ACT Public Schools for more than 15 years with a strong focus on Farrer Primary School.

In this time she has been: a parent; Scientist in School member; community organiser; resource collector and donator; garden planner; expert entomologist; community liaison; student mentor; science fair judge; fabulous story teller; assembly guest; and most importantly, an inspiration to others.

Carol has been a role model and inspiration to thousands of students in the subject of science. Carol focuses on collaboration and partnerships and promotes and educates students and families on sustainability - which most recently included fundraising activities for a school greenhouse.

New Educator of the Year: Francis Ventura – Calwell High School

Francis has displayed a passion and commitment to selflessly enriching school life, beyond expectations, ensuring that Calwell High is a school where ‘students love to learn’.

Francis has organised an impressive range of visits, projects, fundraising and volunteering opportunities that inspire and build students’ capacity. Highlights include volunteering with the ACT Brumbies and visiting Federal Parliament for meetings with the Speaker and other MPs.

Francis also serves on the School Board, coordinates the QUEST Leadership Development Program, and mentors students in a way that uplifts and inspires.

Students in his classes enjoy extraordinary growth in their wellbeing and learning, particularly in higher-order critical thinking.

Early Childhood and Primary Teacher of the Year: The judging panel awarded two winners for this category. The winners are Karen Wilson – Bonython Primary School and Natalie Otten – Amaroo School

This year the judging panel has awarded two winners in this category to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of roles that were on display this year.

Karen Wilson is a Visual Arts Teacher who has shown a real passion and commitment to learning.

Karen led the planning of two public art exhibitions of students’ art in 2018 and 2019 at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre. Karen promoted student agency in the planning of these exhibitions. ‘Acknowledging Country’ was the central concept for the 2019 exhibition. Karen demonstrates cultural integrity in her work and led a whole-school inquiry into Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week.

Natalie Otten is an outstanding Teacher Librarian who has made a broad contribution within Amaroo School though her efforts to promote literacy and cultural inclusivity. Natalie’s efforts have made a significant impact on her school. Natalie co-created AMSTUDY, a program that allows access to teachers and students to the library space after school hours. AMSTUDY has resulted in a 21% increase in student submission of work across the school.

Natalie is also an integral member of the Cultural Inclusivity Team, who collaborate with the school community and local indigenous families.

Secondary Teacher of the Year: Kylie Brown – Campbell High School

Kylie has displayed a commitment to differentiated pedagogy that caters for individual student needs both in and out of the classroom and enables student voice.

Kylie has provided enriching opportunities and equity of access for students, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and those with disabilities. Students in Kylie’s band and music programs feel welcome, supported and valued. This is reflected by the Band Program increasing by more than 200%.

Kylie has established links with the ANU school of music and community bands for students to develop their pathways and network. Kylie has also dedicated many out of school hours towards enhancing her students’ learning through performances at local events, fetes and festivals.

Leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education: Tikarra Looke – Kingsford Smith School

Tikarra has worked tirelessly to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices, histories, cultures and stories are embedded in many aspects of learning at Kingsford Smith School.

In her work, Tikarra finds scholarships and grants for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to further their access to continued education and has been a key advocate for providing Indigenous students a voice at significant school events and celebrations.

Tikarra leads the Cultural Integrity Committee to ensure that resources and support are available for our teachers as they learn to embed the cross-curriculum priority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures.

School Leader of the Year: Jackie Vaughan – Flexible Education

As the new Principal of Flexible Education, Jackie’s mantra of ‘no barriers’ sits at the centre of all the education programs she leads.

The Muliyan Off Campus Flexible Learning Program, Murrumbidgee Education and Training Centre, The Cottage and The Hospital School have come together as a suite of alternate programs under Jackie’s leadership.

Jackie is a leader who actively promotes key components of the Strategic Plan through delivering educational services to empower young people, especially those at risk of dropping out of education. Jackie has long been an advocate for young people who struggle with school and require a different framework to support their educational needs.

Jackie is an innovative and passionate supporter of all young people and constantly strives to develop engaging and flexible practice and pedagogy for students and staff.

ESO School support Person of the Year: Jo Wisdom – Transitions and Careers

Jo is a passionate teacher, school leader and professional career practitioner who inspires students and colleagues alike. Jo has worked in ACT public high schools and colleges for more than 20 years, going above and beyond to guide young people and implement programs that address their career aspirations.

Her achievements include developing and delivering a Closing the Gap initiative where 12 of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students successfully completed a Certificate III qualification in Land Conservation and Management.

Jo also works with schools, students, their families and stakeholders to deliver the Vocational Learning Options program which around 300 students successfully complete each year to pursue a more certain pathway.

Jo is a valued team player who encourages everyone to advance their own career.


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

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