On August 17 last year, more than 500 of Australia’s education elite from across the country gathered in Sydney for the inaugural Australian Education Awards, which were presented in 24 categories recognising the work of the schools and individuals making their mark in the sector.
This year, the Australian education sector will again be put in the spotlight for all the right reasons when the awards, and those nominated for them, return to Sydney in August.
One of the big accolades up for grabs on the night will be the Teacher of the Year Award. Sponsoring the Award will be Teachers Mutual Bank, which supports teachers and their families with savings accounts, loans, insurance, term deposits, credit cards and more.
Below, The Educator speaks to Alan Waugh, general manager of Teachers Mutual Bank, about its decision to sponsor the prestigious award.
TE: Why has Teachers Mutual Bank chosen to sponsor the Teacher of the Year Award?
Teachers Mutual Bank has been supporting teachers and their families for over 50 years, we know how important supporting excellence in teaching is not just for the educators – but for parents, students, and the whole of society. It’s the intergenerational social impact that one teacher can have that we’ve had the privilege to witness through our long-term support of teachers across Australia. There are many great stories that need to be told and shared, we hope supporting this award is one way we can help demonstrate the inestimable value of our teachers.
TE: Why do you think events like this are important for the K-12 education sector more broadly?
It’s important to recognise that excellence in teaching exists across the spectrum of age groups. People perhaps tend to think of the final years of high school as being critical years. They are, but it’s also important to recognise the vital work of educators across early education. They have a huge impact on the development of young kids into keen students. That’s why we believe it’s good to acknowledge the many different levels of education in which teachers can have a positive social impact.
TE: In your view, what are some of the qualities that make an outstanding teacher?
Without a doubt passion is really important. Many of the outstanding teachers we know have the ability to engage kids and get them excited about education and learning. At the same time, the capacity to balance this engagement with good student care and assistance is crucial. Outstanding teachers tend to balance both these elements very well. If you look at the success of someone like Eddie Woo, you can see how infectious the enthusiasm of a good teacher is at drawing you in to their world and area of expertise.
TE: Are there any new and exciting ways that Teachers Mutual Bank will be supporting schools in the year ahead?
We’ve recently launched a pilot digital program called the Learning Edge with the NSW Department of Education. Five teachers had the opportunity through the Learning Edge to attend an exclusive digital workshop at YouTube and receive funding towards digital equipment. It was a great success, and we’re keen to investigate what the next steps in the project may be. We also will be continuing our Future Teacher Scholarships program to financially assist our emerging educators who are currently studying.