Celebrated for their enduring, often life-changing contribution to Australian education, the latest crop of winners have now been formally enshrined as our ‘ambassadors for education’ at a moving awards luncheon in Melbourne.
Seated beneath glistening chandeliers, Australian Teacher Magazine joined the 13 educators and their closest well-wishers to honour their extraordinary achievements.
Extending his “heartiest congratulations” across The Langham’s Clarendon Ballroom, ASG NEiTA chairman Allen Blewitt was effusive in his praise.
“Every one of these teachers is now, and they don’t realise how much they will become, an ambassador for education.
“The (NEiTA) winners in past years are still contacted by people in their communities and media in order to be a commentator on education; someone who is recognised as an achiever and an expert,” he said.
Noting that teaching was a “huge responsibility” to bear for the good of our society, Blewitt did not temper his words.
“Looking at the big picture, as far as I’m concerned teachers are the nation’s heroes and deserve to be recognised for their leadership, innovation and community engagement.
“The evidence is clear – teachers make the difference.
“A lot of those other things that people think make the difference don’t have anywhere near the impact…”
Singled out from 1350 nominations sent in from across Australia, the winners had every reason to be proud.
From Qld principal Erica Prosser, who has designed an arts-focussed curriculum to rekindle Indigenous children’s love of learning, to WA’s Jacob Windle, who uses “captivating methods” to showcase the fundamentals of science to his students, the ingenuity and passion shown by each educator is deeply inspiring.
Speaking on behalf of the Primary School recipients, Carolyn Elliot from Pembroke Primary School in Victoria took to the stage to disclose her vision for all schools.
“Nelson Mandela said that ‘education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’.
“In part this is true, but fundamentally it is the people who educate, rather than the education itself that defines the citizens of our future,” the principal said.
“Winners are dreamers who never give up, and so it is through that we hold the shared belief that through education we learn the power of possible.”
Noting she felt “blessed” to be living in a country where children’s dreams can be made into a reality, Elliot lifted the room with a bout of stirring insights.
“It takes a special person to light the fire, to raise our children’s expectations for themselves and never give up on them, no matter how challenging it might be.
“We all choose to affect the word rather than be affected by it, and we are thankful for the opportunity to be a small part of another persons’ life.
“This is a privilege that we get to live each day,” she concluded.
For secondary teacher Guy Stapleton, the award held great significance. Manning the microphone, the science educator from Melville Senior High School in WA echoed Blewitt’s sentiments.
“To all of the recipients today, thank you for making a difference in the lives of children throughout Australia,” he began.
Known for his musical talents in the school science lab, Stapleton shared his one vaulting ambition: “to make science interesting”.
Teaching, he said, was a professional honour.
“Apart from parenting, it is the second most important job in our society.”