The TEACHX Awards are held annually by the Queensland College of Teachers to recognise some great teachers in our community and to elevate the profession.
In the year of COVID-19, the need for teachers to be flexible, hard working, innovative and dedicated to the education of students was on display more than ever.
The QCT received close to 400 nominations of which 74 nominees were shortlisted.
In each of the six awards categories there were five finalists.
Out of those 30 teachers I personally interviewed 15 of them and drafted 14 media releases.
These are their stories.
Outstanding Contribution to School Community
Chantelle Amson – Chantelle teachers at the Nambour Special School and if Mohammed won’t come to the moutain, well Chantelle brings the mountain to her students. An incredibly dedicated teacher she has created two major events at her school and is part of the school’s choir named Sing, Sign, Sway which participates with mainstream schools in a Chorale Spectacular every second year. The two major events at NSS are a Market Day (the school’s fair) and Gold Pass Day where and this is for real, they set up a water park on the school oval including a massive slide. For some of the students this is the first time they are able to experience something like this. Chantelle Amson leads a school, a community in making this happen. She does not do it by herself but it happens because she sought to do it. Just another example of the amazing teachers who were Finalists.
Ron Armstrong – When the zombie apocalypse occurs you might want to look up Ron Armstrong. Growing up on a dairy farm he spent 3 hours a day commuting to school and as a teenager he played rugby league and competed in track and field at state level. As an adult he learned martial arts and became a Muay Thai instructor, climbing instructor and archery instructor. Having been a teacher most of his working life he has also worked in corrective services, employment services, ran a school in Papua New Guinea and had a book of poetry published. For well over a decade he has been involved in the boarding of students and been called upon for his expertise. When COVID hit, he and his team worked hard liaising with various agencies to meet safety requirements and be one of the first in the state to open up their school’s boarding facilities.
Carly Bell – In a town of about 3,000 people, Clermont teacher Carly Bell makes a difference. Having moved there sixteen years ago she has boosted numbers of students from the town going onto university and she has been heavily involved in community activities. She became the first female rugby league player from the town to play for the Queensland side. Talking to her gave me a wonderful insight into the appeal of living in Clermont and the idea that in such a community you get out what you put in.
Outstanding Contribution to Teaching
Ping Ding – A teacher with a remarkable story of growing up during the Cultural Revolution in China. Her entire generation valued education and made the most of their chances to pursue it. As an immigrant to Australia she has overcome language and cultural difference to build one of the state’s largest Chinese language departments. She continues to grow ties between Chinese and Australian school students. Like all these teachers, despite such accomplishments she is very self-effacing.
John Alloway – Seventy-two year old John Alloway is the bedrock of the Iggy Park and larger Townsville community. He’s been teaching since 1978 and was part of a push to get Catholic students and state school students to compete together in the brotherhood of sports. He worked twenty years for the North Queensland Cowboys part time tapping him into the innovations of professional sport while he remained Head of Sport at Iggy Park. A lifelong athlete he pedals to school, has shins that put most of us to shame, and can be found lifting weights during the day but when he talks about building the confidence of young students regardless of their athletic ability it touches something in your heart. This is a teacher in the most important sense of the word. Interestingly enough he worked odd jobs after school before deciding to consider going to night school. My own father had a similar experience and so I found something familiar in Alloway’s experiences.
John Aloizos – Was a wonderful man to speak to about his background growing up in a migrant family and how it gives him insight into the students at his own school where English is not their first language. He has been involved in many projects and been a heads of department often over the years, but a current program where he recruits students to be part of the school’s Stage Crew taking care of all the AV needs for school and external productions is what we mainly discussed. Many of these students are shy and withdrawn, they become proficient, confident and self-reliant as a Stage Crew member. A small measure of John’s impact and maybe the most important one.
It will always remain an honour to have interviewed these wonderful teachers.