One of the toughest jobs on the New England Region education calendar has been done and dusted, with the announcement of the 2011 Regional Awards at Armidale on Friday 17 June.
New England Regional Director, Jim White, admits that deciding on the final award recipients is never an easy task.
“There are so many great things happening in our classrooms across the region every day, that it is hard to isolate stand-out achievements,” Mr White says.
“Many staff and schools are reluctant to nominate, because they just see their role as working as hard as they possibly can to achieve the very best for each and every one of the students.
“Nevertheless, it is crucial that we pause regularly to recognise excellence and the extraordinary efforts so many people put into education.
“We should be very, very proud of what our New England Region public schools are achieving and the positive impact they are having on the lives of the children in their care.”
This year’s Regional Awards are being hosted at Sandon Public School by the Armidale Community of Schools.
Hundreds of family members and school representatives watched proudly as the exemplary accomplishments were recognised.
Those receiving awards of excellence were:
– Aboriginal Education – Westdale Public School
-Educational Support – Denise Smoother, New England Regional Office, Armidale
– environmental Education – Tamworth South Public School
– Innovation – Collarenebri Central School
– Promoting Public Education – Narrabri Public School
– Quality Service – Boggabri Public School
– School/Community Partnerships – Narrabri Public School
– Sport Education – Inverell High School
– Student Achievement (Year 12) – Erika Anderson, Wee Waa High School
– Student Achievement (Year 6) – Kelly Russell, Oxley Vale Public School
– Student Leadership (school award) – Sandon Public School
– Student Leadership (Year 12) – Tahliea Merchant, Tenterfield HS
– Student Leadership (Year 6) – Mitchell Green, Sandon Public School
– Student Wellbeing – Farrer
– Teaching and Learning – Nemingha Public School
– Teaching Practice – Luke Norman, Oxley Vale Public School
– Teaching Practice (joint) – Gabriel Leis, Tenterfield HS
– Arts – Westdale Public School
– Development of Teaching Practice (joint) – Alison Trudgeon, Narrabri Public School
– Development of Teaching Practice (joint) – Hannah Caskey, Wee Waa High School
– Contribution Beyond the Classroom – Jennifer Austin, Barraba Central School
– Contribution to Education by a parent or community member – Annette Seagrave, Tamworth High School
A highlight of each year’s Regional Awards is the Ambassador for Public Education, chosen from a highly accomplished graduate of one of the region’s public schools.
Following in the footsteps of last year’s winner (the youthful and dynamic Mayor of Gunnedah Shire, Andrew Marshall), was the 2011 Ambassador, Nick King.
A graduate of Inverell’s Macintyre High School, where he was captain in 1996, Mr King is an exceptional young man whose personal and business achievements are outstanding.
He is held in the highest esteem by his local Inverell community and in Australia and internationally by the martial arts community.
The year after graduating, he established his own business, Nick King’s Lifestyle Centre, focusing on fitness and self-defence.
Now expanded to offer classes at Glen Innes, Bingara, Ashford and Texas, as well as Inverell, Nick’s programs span classes for school students, as well as people with disabilities and the elderly.
A 26 –year martial arts veteran, 32-year-old Nick ranks as a fifth degree black belt and holds the honour of Shihan (meaning leader).
Host school Sandon Public was recognised for its ability to engender leadership qualities.
As well as taking out the school award for Excellence in Student Leadership, Sandon Public Year 6 student, Mitchell Green, was announced as the winner of the school award.
For the past four years, Sandon Public School has continued to develop and refine its Student Leadership program, which is now resulting in high-level outcomes for all students – and in particular the student leaders themselves.
One initiative that Sandon Public has adopted is to offer all Year 6 students the opportunity to be student leaders.
Practising skills that will later become valuable as they seek to enter the workforce, they prepare a written application and are interviewed for the position.
Students are also engaged in a range of committees, as well as playing roles in peer support and mediation.
Denise Smoother, who is a regional Disabilities Consultant based at the regional office in Armidale, was recognised with the Excellence in Educational Support award.
With over 20 years’ experience as a caring and dedicated classroom teacher and consultant, Ms Smoother has a deep knowledge of students with special needs that has allowed her to provide sound advice and support to schools across the region.
Schools have expressed their appreciation for the sensitive but effective style Ms Smoother applies to advice about classroom and school programs.
Demonstrating the high calibre of the New England Region’s newer teachers, Hannah Caskey was a joint winner of the Excellence in Teaching Practice Award.
Ms Caskey, whose family lives in the Warialda area, is an Agriculture Teacher at Wee Waa High School in the west of the region.
She is an enthusiastic teacher with a strong personal commitment.
Her students are enthusiastic and perform well, and are no doubt motivated by Ms Caskey’s obvious commitment to be a continuing learner constantly upgrading her professional skills as a teacher and in Primary Industries and Agriculture.
She successfully tied her teaching of Agriculture to the school’s annual Ag Open Day, ensuring that students learnt key components of their courses, earning her praise as an outstanding young teacher making a major contribution to the learning of the students that she teaches, to the school and the community as a whole.
Mr White is delighted that award recipients are drawn from such a broad spectrum of the New England Region, which stretches from Boggabilla and Tenterfield in the north, east to Ebor and Nowendoc on the edge of the coastal escarpment, west to Collarenebri and south as far as Willowtree.
He praises the way Armidale High School Captain, Tara Riley and Andrea Jaggi, a Duval High Captain, carried out their masters-of-ceremonies duties and the performances by the combined primary school choir led and conducted by Ben Venue Public teacher, Sally Spillane and the stage band made up of talented musicians from Armidale and Duval High Schools.