Excellence in ECEC recognised through ASG awards
Twelve outstanding educators were recognised at the National Excellence in Teaching (NEiTA) awards ceremony last week, held at the State Library Victoria. Early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals from around Australia were recognised in the ceremony, chosen from a shortlist of 25 peers.
Nominations for the NEiTA awards were submitted by the ‘consumers’ of education such as parents, governing bodies, committees of management, student councils and community organisations, with award winners receiving a certificate and a $5,000 professional development grant.
The shortlisted recipients, from a range of educational service types including ECEC, were asked to provide responses to five questions in relation to their professional practice in a self produced video, alongside a 1,200 word essay, to be in contention for the award.
The NEiTA Foundation was established alongside the awards, in 1994, by the Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) to honour exemplary teaching practice throughout Australia. A spokesperson for the Group said ASG was proud to continue their support for the education profession by acknowledging the valuable contribution made by inspirational educators.
ECEC 2018 ASG NEiTA recipients were:
Ms Pugh is an educator with 34 years of teaching experience, which she says has influenced her belief that quality education and care can build self-belief in children and widen the way adults understand children, saying education in the early years was “a fascinating arena that crosses the boundaries of science, human development, social policy, economics and politics”
She is proud to be associated with her children’s latest project—drawing up an alternative bio-topic map of the Ourimbah Campus of the University of Newcastle, where her preschool and children’s centre is located.
In accepting her reward, Ms Pugh added that she was especially keen to contribute to research which benefits children’s outcomes, positively influencing children’s physical, mental and emotional development so that children are stronger and more agile, happier and less anxious and more considered and caring citizens.
Ms Rule described the opportunity to be involved in providing guidance to children during the early years and being a positive influence in these important developmental stages in a person’s life as “a privilege and a calling.”
Some of the initiatives Ms Rule is involved in, and which led to her receipt of her NEiTA award include:
- a charity committee that has seen pre-schoolers help with food donations to OzHarvest
- a peer mentor program for educators to enhance their professional skills and ability to critically reflect on their practice
- a partnership with an age care home to enable the children in her centre to visit and interact with the oldest members of the Lilyfield community to learn and to have fun together
- collaborating with a local primary school to have the Year 6s buddy up with the pre-schoolers for reading sessions
- A research project with the Powerhouse Museum that will seek to develop children’s thinking skills with regards to early computer coding technology and science while measuring their progress over time.
Ms Hatcher was recognised for her pragmatic approach to challenges encountered across her time as an educator, and her focus on sharing her knowledge with the ECEC sector more broadly.
One of the most challenging professional issues Ms Hatcher has faced was the recent enrolment of 100 new families with limited or no knowledge of English. The families represented more than 20 different nationalities. Navigating this challenge required cultural awareness, additional time to respect previous experiences and to encourage families to set goals for their child to learn English while valuing their home language.
One of the initiatives born from the experience of the challenge outlined above was the ‘Pay It Forward’ program for orientation that used the knowledge and passion of existing families to support new incoming families, particularly enrolments from families with limited knowledge of English.
In future, Ms Hatcher aims to develop the ‘Pay it Forward’ program into a NESA-approved professional development module that could be made available to the sector.
Further information about the awards, including a full list of recipients across all categories can be found here.