NEiTA Award Recipients

Teachers play an extraordinary yet understated part in the lives of children. That’s why ASG NEiTA supports communities in their effort to thank teachers for the education of our children and for being a tremendous positive influence in their lives.

Over the last 25 years, more than 40,000 teachers have been nominated by the community across Australia and New Zealand.


Hearty congratulations to the 18 national recipients of the 2019 ASG National Excellence in Teaching Awards

2019 ASG NEiTA Australia Recipients


Early Childhood

Katrin Cornell

Lindfield Learning Village, NSW

Katrin’s aim is to make school the most joyous part of a student’s day. She aims to build wonder and curiosity in learners, so they love coming to school. She motivates and inspires her colleagues to be expert educators who put the needs of their students first.

Katrin’s team has been busy setting up Lindfield Learning Village, based on an innovative model where classes are taught by stage not age, teachers co-teach in open learning spaces and there are no bells to announce the end of a class.

To promote distributed leadership, collegiality and educational growth among teachers, Katrin established a mentoring program at her school. Katrin has also implemented, led and coordinated a variety of whole-school wellbeing programs.

Katrin believes that it is important to connect home, school and community to make sure students have a strong sense of belonging. Students need to know that all of us are working together to improve learning for them, she says.

Blake Stewart

St Luke’s Preschool, NSW

As a preschool educator, Blake relishes the opportunity to value each child’s culture and home context. He develops individual learning plans and goals by empowering the child to have a voice in their goals and by partnering with the child’s family, occupational therapist, and psychologist.

He has been the lead educator for the Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) Pilot Program since 2017. In this position, Blake works alongside his colleagues, community and other preschools to embed STEM concepts into everyday practice.

Blake’s experiences as a male early childhood teacher has developed in him a passion to advocate for the presence and support of men in early childhood education. He has started male educator networking groups and actively encourages men to consider opportunities in the early childhood education sector. Local TAFE and universities seek him out to mentor or supervise pre-service male educators, so they can have a positive experience in the early stages of their career.

Lucy Nilsson

Spring Road Community Kindergarten, WA

Lucy believes that her job is to make sure children feel happy and safe during their introduction to schooling. She is inspired by educators who focus on the development of the whole child and their unique interests through engaging learning experiences.

She implements the Walker Learning pedagogy in line with her beliefs and understanding of how young children learn best. Lucy believes this approach honours the individual child and supports teaching to children’s’ individual needs and strengths.

It’s imperative to Lucy that young children should have a sense of belonging, feel safe to take risks with their learning and not feel anxious because of data-driven expectations.

Lucy believes that the most innovative teaching strategy of our time is the provision of play-based learning to young children. Access to engaging, age-appropriate learning experiences not only focuses on the “whole” child but leads to confident, enthusiastic lifelong learners and prepares them for a future in the 21st century.

Melinda Golinski

Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School, WA

Fifteen years into teaching, Melinda continues to be ‘amazed’ by her students. She is convinced that it is the individuality of her students that fuels her commitment to be the best teacher she could be. The passion of her students encourages her to boost student agency and their unique needs push her to implement new strategies, particularly in positive education and student wellbeing.

Melinda has developed a professional learning program called STEM Leaders to develop teacher self-efficacy. She has been running the program to support female teachers from government, Catholic and independent schools across the region for three years. The program demystifies ‘STEM’ and helps teachers learn about different types of inquiry-based pedagogies and how to use them to integrate STEM education in their class.

In addition to this, she coordinates a yearly STEM conference which encourages primary teachers to share their experience of conducting successful programs with other teachers. Melinda likes to share ideas with other teachers by presenting at conferences.


Melinda is the recipient of the 2019 Terry O’Connell Regional and Remote Teacher’s Award.



Kylie Chatto

All Saints’ College, WA

Kylie believes that it is a gift to work with children every day. She is fascinated by the way young minds see the world with curiosity, wonder and joy, and their innate thirst for learning. She says that she is grateful to have a part in creating the environment and sense of community that fuels the growth and learning of her students.

Kylie believes it is an exciting time in education as we move away from more traditional styles and concepts of what it means to teach and learn. To respect the development of her students as individual agents of their learning, she sees her role as a facilitator, networker, mentor, guide and co-learner, and as someone who can support students to develop their own learning.

Kylie sees the next phase of her career as being very much about developing more innovative ways of facilitating learning through strong collaboration with colleagues. She believes students need their teachers to skillfully and purposefully create and hold space for them to boldly tackle their own learning.

Rebecca Lambrose

Rochedale South State School, QLD

Rebecca is committed to ensuring that every child in her classroom feels safe, secure and successful as a learner. She has created a learning environment where students of all abilities work together, support each other and celebrate each other’s successes.

Her classroom works on a Positive Behaviour for Learning model for behaviour management. Rebecca’s ‘Oh Snap’ system allows students to request a ‘selfie’ of their work to show their family or post on an online blog when they reach a goal or are proud of their progress.

Her lunchtime ‘Friendship Club’ helps children to develop social skills, improve self-regulation and feel valued. The initiative has helped the class see a dramatic improvement in students’ communication skills and self-regulation during times of conflict. Her students also love ‘Lunch with Mrs L’, which allows Rebecca to meet with her students individually to check in on all aspects of their school life.

Her advice to new teachers: establish solid classroom routines and transition behaviours to maintain an organised classroom where students know what is happening and what is expected.

Rebecca is the recipient of the 2019 ASG NeiTA Early Careers Teaching Award.

Bek Duyckers

Perth College, WA

Bek is always on the lookout for innovation in teaching and learning that responds to the needs of students. This prompted her to contribute to the establishment and growth of the Imaginarium initiative at Perth College to support the holistic development of gifted girls in WA.

Through the Imaginarium, Bek supports twice-exceptional students, who are naturally creative thinkers and learners, but who struggle with learning difficulties and disabilities that are often overlooked or misdiagnosed. The flexible nature of the Imaginarium programs foster and support the natural curiosity of gifted girls and allows them to delve deep into topics and follow their own path, thanks to the open-ended nature of tasks.

Bek would like to use her prize money to go on a study tour of educational institutions that have been recognised as innovative and leading the way in various specialised areas. She believes that exposure to concepts practiced in these institutions will help her input them into the Imaginarium and also create a ripple effect by sharing them with other educators across WA.

Bek is the recipient of the 2019 ASG NEiTA Innovation Award.

James Kristof

Cambridge Gardens Public School, NSW

James believes that gaining a deep understanding of every student, their background and mental health is the first step to figuring out what that student needs in order to succeed.

He constantly makes efforts to inspire his students to achieve to the best of their ability by encouraging their involvement in as many different activities as possible. He leads by example: heading the Kitchen Gardens program in his school, being at the forefront of school-wide sustainability programs, and supporting debating, sporting events, the chess club and others.

The Kitchen Garden Program has helped students engage with their learning by accessing curriculum content through hands-on learning activities. The program has allowed the school to establish specialised learning groups and to give students with learning and mental health needs access to a positive, safe, calm and active environment to learn and self-regulate their behaviour.



Geoffrey McNamara

Science Mentors ACT - Academy of Future Skills ACT Education Directorate, ACT

Over the last decade, Geoff has been trying to dispel the misconception among many bright students: that they can’t become a scientist because they are not smart enough.

His efforts have centred around breaking down barriers between young students and scientists and engineers. Thanks to his efforts, his students have had the opportunity of listening to scientists present their research and the chance to visit university, government and commercial laboratories to see applications of science in real life and further research.

His program—Science Mentors ACT—tailors individual partnerships and learning programs for ACT students according to their interest and ability. Under the guidance of specialists, students learnt to design, perform and report on their own research questions. At the moment, the program supports the ideas of 54 students.

He also set up the McNamara-Saunders Astronomical Teaching Telescope (MSATT), a professional-grade teaching facility designed specifically for students, to his credit. After supporting 30 student projects, MSATT 2 was launched. As part of these projects, Geoff has seen students use their own observations to calculate the speed of light, the distances to stars and the evolution of galaxies.

Heather Fraser

Pimlico State High School, QLD

Heather believes that a good teacher must have a passion for their discipline and an insatiable desire to accumulate new knowledge. That passion is constantly drawn upon to inspire students.

Heather believes that good teachers must have the ability to nurture and care for students while being able to bring energy and creativity to the classroom. Good teachers are masters at interpreting the world for their students.

As President of the English Teacher's Association of Queensland (Townsville Branch), Heather facilitates learning for her fellow teachers by organising professional development workshops for other English teachers in response to the needs of the profession.

Heather’s advice to new teachers are: learn and love your content, never stop exploring and learning, at all times stay current and stay connected, build your professional network so you can draw on others for advice.

Heather is the recipient of the 2019 ASG NEiTA Founders’ Award for Leadership.

Lainie Shimell

The Ponds High School, NSW

Lainie is passionate about inclusive education. Her aim is to provide students with enough support to achieve their goals while allowing them the flexibility and control to improve their confidence and sense of self-efficacy.

She studies her students to understand their special needs. In an effort to support them, she has modified classrooms to ensure student safety; developed interactive booklets and worksheets that allow students to take control of their own learning; trained students and educators to use programs such as Natural Reader to access classwork, textbooks and novels; and initiated the use of interactive PDFs with sound files to enable the students to complete assessment tasks, thus allowing the students to access support models provided by national testing facilitators.

She believes that the adoption of research-based techniques and best practice delivery methods is essential for both able and disabled students to reach their potential.

Sarah Eve

Perth Modern High School, WA

Sarah’s love of teaching is driven by the joy that visual arts brings to the lives of her students and the importance of the arts in society. She takes equal pleasure in seeing the finished artwork of her students and in their pride in their work.

Sarah is passionate about creating immersive learning opportunities to provide real-world experiences to her students. She encourages students to create an artist website to document and reflect on their projects and allow others to interact with the artwork through an interactive platform.

One of her successes was to change the disengaged attitude of a class of Year 10 boys through the use of kinesthetic activities based on the group’s collective love of cars and bikes while challenging them to understand new concepts.

Sarah’s highest praise may well come from her nomination (by a student): “Ms Eve provided a safe space to create, which provided a sanctuary from the pressures of ATAR in high school. It gave me a reason to care about school.”


2019 ASG NEiTA New Zealand Recipients


Early Childhood

Aimee MacAskill

Auckland University, Auckland

Aimee is fiercely protective of the tamariki in her care and takes great pride in watching them develop signs of independence and competence as they head off on their school journey when they leave the early childhood centres under her care.

Over the last 23 years, Aimee has learnt to juggle between interacting with children with humour; sporting a crazy wig, funny shoes and using 10 different voices to read one book; while wearing a very serious thinking cap while planning for their development and documenting their learning.

To Aimee, leadership meant nothing more than something the ‘boss’ did. That was before she was asked to take on the leadership role in a large childcare centre in central Christchurch. Eighteen years later, she understands the complexity behind the roles and responsibilities of a leader after, as she puts it, “probably making all the mistakes you can imagine and learning so many wonderful things along the way.”

Her advice: “If we all acted with more kindness and love in education, the world would be a more beautiful and loving place.”




Lee Tibble

Royal Oak Intermediate, Auckland

Lee takes pride in providing a fun and safe learning environment for his students, some of whom come from backgrounds where people have given up on them. This makes Lee even more determined to show his akonga that they are worth it and that every individual deserves the right to have someone who is willing to not give up on them.

Lee’s class is not just about the curriculum. Building and fostering relationships with his students and their parents are the most important part of teaching.

With this in mind, he shares his life experiences and about himself with his students, regularly contacts parents to update them on class activities, trades stories with his students about their weekends, and even brings in his dog to school to interact with the students. “All this fosters trust and respect and ensures the environment is one where students can and want to learn.”

He believes that a good teacher isn’t a teacher at all, but a facilitator. His advice to new teachers: “Break the rules. Take risks. Have fun.”

Renu Sikka

Henderson Primary School, Auckland

Being a child’s advocate and helping them realise their potential gives Renu great joy. She believes that this can be achieved when the school, parents and community form a meaningful, authentic, respectful partnership in a culturally responsible way that focuses on improving the child’s educational experiences and learning outcomes.

Renu has helped students achieve their goals by helping them to take responsibility for their own learning and developing individualized pathways to suit their needs. She believes that for many students, a passion for education is often ignited by an inspiring teacher. At the same time, true to the Maori principle of 'Ako', Renu finds that students teach her too.

Her advice to new teachers who find themselves struggling at the end of the first school term: hang in there. “Almost every one is struggling. You only feel the way you do because you care so much. Don’t leave. We need teachers like you. Things will get it better. You can and will make a difference.”

Catherine Broman

David Henry School, Tokoroa

Over four decades of teaching, students have constantly been on Catherine’s mind. She is inspired by them and often catches herself thinking of ways to help them make progress. My students know they can depend on me and I know I can depend on them. We have each others’ back, Catherine says.

She says that though she is closer to the end of her career than to the beginning of it she intends to keep learning. This attitude has helped her stay abreast of the technological trends in education and society and use it with confidence to keep her students engaged in the classroom.

For instance, she uses the Night Zookeeper, an online writing tool to motivate her students to write. This initiative has been met with great success. Students who once disliked writing now love it.

Her personal goal is to keep working at improving the teaching of comprehension and understanding while promoting a love of reading among students.

Her advice to new teachers: don’t worry when things go wrong. Learn from it, fix it or move on, but don’t let it eat away at you.




Carl MacIntyre

Cornerstone Christian School, Palmerstone North

Carl feels with those who struggle to succeed in a normal classroom environment. When learning needs, social difficulties at home or school make education harder for some students, Carl goes out of his way to spot individual needs and to help students overcome challenges.

He designed a dyslexic/Irlen screening system in order to better support students whose learning disabilities interfere with their learning. Carl believes that identifying and supporting unique student learning needs, providing for the holistic wellbeing of learners and fashioning career pathways for them are essential to produce young adults equipped and inspired to creatively impact our world.

Carl has also helped to create the Cornerstone pastoral care model—Life Lab—through which student groups have a teacher (coach) who is responsible for their emotional, spiritual, social, physical and learning needs, ensuring that no student is isolated, instead they are well supported.

Carl is the recipient of the 2019 ASG NEiTA Founders’ Award for Leadership.

Christopher Waugh

Mount Aspiring College, Wanaka

Chris believes in the judicious use of technology to transform his classroom for 21st-century learners.

He introduced the ‘You Choose’ ‘student course selection scheme, under which teachers develop learning programs and present it to student cohorts at the start of the year. Students then select their course and teacher for the year based on the presentations.

His second classroom innovation is to enable students to present their work on blogs, ushering a transparent means of publishing and sharing classwork.

He is currently working on the ‘Unlock Achievement’ project that will replace traditional testing in the school with access to digital credentials that students can unlock at any time on their educational journey. This will allow students to build a portfolio of credentials, allowing them to curate their learning, improving student agency, and supporting resilience as it allows them to ‘try again’.

Chris is the recipient of the 2019 ASG NEiTA Innovation Award.


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