Having spent 18 of those 22 years at small independent Bungaree Primary School in nearby Rockingham, the passionate specialist science teacher has given her all for those students lucky enough to have come under her care in her purpose-built classroom.

Having always been mad about science, and swapping roles with colleagues at every opportunity to teach more of it, it wasn’t until 2011 and the BER that her dream of teaching science from Early Years to Year 6 became a reality.

“My principal at the time took the opportunity to put into place a specialist science program, which in WA at the time was quite advanced, or even now, not every primary school has a science specialist...

“So obviously I jumped at the opportunity and have now seen students who I’ve taught right from Year One that are now graduating and they’ve sort of had their whole schooling with the science specialist model.”

Schicker says her science class is ‘a very busy little hive’ brimming with a wide range of resources and always buzzing with activity.

“I’m very much an advocate for hands on learning, but we also do a lot of vocab.

“I very strongly believe in teaching kids from Year 1/pre-primary, the correct vocabulary as long as you anchor it in hands on experience that makes it meaningful for them.”

Her school zone, like her home town of Kwinana, could be termed a ‘low socio-economic area’, so for Schicker it is imperative that she impart on her students that circumstance does not define who they are or what they do and rather it is their choices that matter in life.

“I feel like if kids know what job opportunities are out there, then education can make the difference,” she says.

“I was the first person in my family to go to university and get a degree.

“My mum was very much on that, she pushed that if you work hard you can achieve and you can get what you want in this life.

“I suppose that’s part of why I like to show them what they can do with science.”

Schicker’s outstanding teaching and innovation, particularly her work spearheading changes to improve how students with autism move on to secondary school, and how the school and parents manage challenging behaviours, has just seen her win the WA Premier’s Primary Teacher of the Year award for 2016.

Humbled and ‘incredibly overwhelmed’, Schicker says it was just fantastic to be a source of such positive celebration for her school.

“It meant so much to our students and our families,” she says.

“I think every family wants to think that their kids are getting the best and for our parents to think we’ve got somebody in our school of this calibre, it’s just great.”

The win is yet more evidence of the importance being placed on STEM learning in recent times by government and departments and an acknowledgement that the earlier children are introduced to STEM thinking, STEM ideas and STEM practices, the better.

Children are naturally inquisitive, experimental and keen to learn by trial and error, Schicker says.

“Getting them interested in science is sparking that curiosity, is actually getting them involved and for them to see that it’s an exciting area, it’s their world,” she adds.

“Career wise, kids need to know there are opportunities out there that they can grab.”