Australia’s most inspiring teachers honoured for their work

The four Fellows from NSW were all from public schools, and all women. The others were Chantel Mirzai from Auburn North Public School, Alison Rourke from Buxton Public School (now at Fairy Meadow Demonstration School) and Monica St Baker from Hanwood Public School in the Riverina.

Knowing how vital teaching quality is to student outcome, Ms St Baker has focused on professional development for her staff, flying in experts from Sydney and Tamworth to work with the teachers in the classroom.

Her work has lifted writing skills above the Australian average in year 5 NAPLAN, and helped her school rise two bands against the School Excellence Framework.

Award recipients Chantel Mirzai and Monica St Baker.

Award recipients Chantel Mirzai and Monica St Baker.Credit:Wolter Peeters

Ms Mirzai, a deputy principal, has focused on collaboration among teachers, aspiration and literacy and numeracy, putting her school among the top 5 per cent in NSW for growth in student achievement.

After joining her semi-rural NSW primary school as principal in 2016, Ms Rourke emphasised instructional leadership and professional development to arrest a fall in results. In 2018, 35 per cent of students were in the top NAPLAN bands for reading and numeracy, up from 9 per cent in 2015.

Award recipients will receive $10,000 for professional development, $5000 for a study tour to Singapore and the opportunity to engage in a series of master classes. In addition, $30,000 is allocated to the recipient’s school for a project to improve student outcomes.

This year, 3500 educators applied for the program, which is a joint initiative with Schools Plus, an organisation connecting donors with schools in need to improve students’ outcomes.

Schools Plus CEO Rosemary Conn said the 12 new Fellows were changing the lives of thousands of Australian students through their creative and inspiring approaches to education.

“These 12 outstanding educators go to extraordinary lengths every day to create a connection with their students and provide the sort of teaching that can change students’ lives. And they all share one view – that every child, no matter their background, has the ability to succeed,” Conn said.




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