In your application, you wrote about how you’ve been transforming outcomes for your students. Tell us what you’ve been doing, and what the results have been.

After being appointed to The Canobolas Rural Technology High School in 2013, I identified a high level of student disengagement. Analysis of school data indicated students arriving in Year 7 had extremely low levels of competence in literacy and numeracy, attendance across the school was low, suspension rates high and external results were well below state average. To address this, I led a team employing “Design Thinking” strategies to identify the root causes of the issues around engagement and to develop a staged strategic plan to change the culture of learning at the school. The initiatives were all aimed at providing engagement in learning with the flow-on effect of improved attendance and behaviour.

How has becoming a teaching fellow benefited you?

The Fellowship has allowed me to connect with other outstanding educators to create the vision of making a difference to educational outcomes for the communities we serve. It has provided the opportunity to leverage each other and the stakeholders associated with the Fellowship to build a profile of outstanding educational leadership across the country. The combined knowledge, passion and dedication to the greater cause serves as a constant reminder about how privileged a role I have in NSW education.

How have your school and your students benefited from your award?

We have had great interest from across the country in the initiatives we have developed and have been invited to speak at a number of conferences as a result of the publicity. Our students are the ultimate beneficiaries, as staff continue to strive for excellence in all that we do. Students see the value of high expectations, a personalised learning pathway and the commitment by our team that every child can learn something everyday and that we need to grow the learning of our students at least one year for every year we teach them.

What has been the highlight of becoming a teaching fellow?

Working with like-minded professionals who want the same outcomes as I do is the greatest sense of accomplishment that I have had in my 20 years in the NSW Department of Education.

What advice would you give any teachers or school leaders thinking about applying this year?

We have been afforded an opportunity in life to work with the next generation of leaders. We never do what we do for accolades or public acknowledgement. I feel so humbled, privileged and grateful for being given the chance to make a difference to not only my community but to millions of children across the country. I would encourage every outstanding educator who has a vision for change, improvement, innovation and success for our students to take a couple of hours and nominate yourself. The professional development you will receive and the difference you will make to communities across the country will remain with you forever.