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Teachers at the top of their class

Inspired teacher: Darren Graham (centre) with Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Mike Byrne (left) and Brisbane Catholic Education professional learning and leadership development manager Ken Avenell


Teachers at the top of their class

CATHOLIC school teachers have outshone their students recently with several recognised for their dedication and hard work.

Year 1 teacher at Southern Cross Catholic College’s MacKillop Campus at Kippa Ring, north of Brisbane, Darren Graham received the Australian Council of Educational Lead-ers (ACEL) Queensland Inspiring Educational Leaders Award for 2012.

The annual award is given to teachers who have demonstrated outstanding practice in the classroom and who, as a result, have made a difference to colleagues and the lives of students in their care.

Mr Graham was nominated by a pre-service trainee teacher who was left inspired by his pedagogy and passion for what he does.

The award was presented to Mr Graham during the ACEL three-day conference held in Brisbane in November and was an acknowledgement of his enthusiasm for his profession.

That same enthusiasm is apparent from Mr Graham’s email signature that reads “Darren Graham, Teacher of a really cool Year 1 class”.

“I have a great group of kids and I love being in the classroom, so if I’ve inspired someone else to love teaching as much as I do, then that’s a good thing,” he said.

Teacher-librarian and ICT (information and communications technology) co-ordinator at St Ita’s Catholic School, Dutton Park, Filia Papamanolis and Iona College’s head of mathematics Anthony Simmers were the only Catholic school winners of the 16 Queensland 2012 NEiTA (National Excellence in Teaching Awards) ASG (Australian Scholarships Group) Inspirational Teaching Awards.

From the 1378 nominations across Aust-ralia, 527 teachers were shortlisted as finalists prior to the selection of 60 teachers for state and territory awards.

Iona College rector Oblate Father Mark Edwards said Mr Simmers was an outstanding candidate for this award and a very worthy winner.

“I wholeheartedly endorse the honour he has been paid,” Fr Edwards said. “This is a wonderful platform to celebrate what Anthony (and all of our teachers) does for our students.”

Ms Papamanolis was recognised for her dedication to fostering a love of reading among her young students.

In her nomination from the school’s Parents’ and Friends’ Association, Ms Papa-manolis was praised for helping to create a strong reading culture at the school.

“Filia organises for the school to host visits from prominent authors and has developed the school’s Celebration of Reading Festival,” the association said.

“She has dedicated more than three decades of her career to teaching and is regarded as an invaluable asset to both the teachers and students at St Ita’s Primary School.”

Both teachers will have to wait until mid-2013 to know if they make it to the list of 12 national award winners chosen from the 60 state and territory winners.

Meanwhile, resident artist and teacher at Marymount College, Burleigh Waters, Fiona Altoft has received the annual Dr Alan Druery Excellence in Teaching Award.

Dr Druery is a respected former Catholic educator who served on the board of the College of Teachers for more than 20 years.

The awards, which attracted more than 120 nominations this year, recognise and celebrate the achievements of inspiring teachers from state, Catholic and independent schools across Queensland who have gone “above and beyond” to help their students learn.

With four award categories this year, 26 finalists were recognised for their passion and dedication to teaching in Queensland.

Ms Altoft, who was nominated by Year 12 student Carley Ruiz, with a little help from principal Chris Noonan, said she was delighted to receive the award.

The easy-going, energetic art teacher said combining a love of teaching and art just seemed a natural vocation for her.

Ms Altoft, who has been teaching at Marymount for 16 years, introduced a closed social media page for her senior students to share links and ideas.

She said the award was not just for her, but the many teachers and staff at Marymount who made up such “a caring community of people”.

“In a situation like mine and so many other teachers at Marymount, we want to do our best for the students here,” Ms Altoft said.

“We care for them and we want to engage them in all aspects of the college life.

“I think it engages and excites my students to think that I am still constantly learning at my age and still searching, loving what I am doing. Hopefully they are inspired by my enthusiasm.”

State Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek announced the winners during a special ceremony at Queensland’s Parliament House.


Written by: Robin Williams

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