On Friday, twelve teachers and principals from across Australia were awarded a teaching fellowship as part of the 2018 Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards, held in Sydney.
The Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards is Australia’s most prestigious prize for educators, with each Fellow receiving a $45,000 grant to assist with their professional development, roll out a new education project in their school, and take part in an overseas study tour to a high-performing education system.
Kylie Macfarlane, Commonwealth Bank general manager for corporate responsibility, said it is critical that teachers are recognised for the work they do in preparing children for the future.
“Quite often, teachers are the unsung heroes of the Australian community, so these awards are a way for us to demonstrate our recognition of 12 great educators from across Australia,” Macfarlane told The Educator.
“From Kathryn through to Tasmania, these teachers are ensuring that they are skilled up and ready for the workforce of the future and break education barriers.”
One of the educators recognised was Ann Caro, the first female Principal of Lithgow High School.
In the midst of the area’s economic decline after a decade of job losses through mine and factory closures, students’ aspirations were at an all-time low.
With a track record of lifting students’ performance over her two decades as a teacher, Caro devised a plan to transform a culture of low expectations for children from disadvantaged backgrounds to a positive culture of hope and aspiration.
Since then, suspensions for poor behaviour have dropped 40%, HSC and NAPLAN results have improved dramatically and Lithgow is now known as a school which maximises student potential.
“The work that Ann Caro is doing to rebuild her school community and put a very progressive agenda of student engagement and teacher professional development is simply magnificent,” Macfarlane said.
“The same goes for Yasodai Selvakumaran, who teaches at Rooty Hill High School. The way she’s engaging kids and getting them to love the work they’re doing is so inspiring.”
To support schools in the year ahead, Macfarlane said the bank will continue to provide a number of programs helping to improve students’ well-being, academic engagement and financial literacy.
Macfarlane also highlighted the work that the bank is doing with Evidence for Learning, a joint venture with Social Ventures Australia.
“Evidence for Learning has had a fantastic three-year history so far, and as we look forward to the outcome of the Gonski review, we can only hope that in the future we see a greater focus on evidence in education in Australia,” she said.
“The awards on Friday were really about recognising that educators are the heroes of our local communities, so the more work we do to support them, the more we will recognise the importance of education in a child’s life.”