top of page

2023 Winners


Congratulations to the winners of the 2023 National Excellence in Teaching Awards. 

For 30 years, NEiTA has acknowledged outstanding educators. Discover our NEiTA alumni:

Forthuber, Alison.jpg

Alison Forthuber
Bellambi Public School
Bellambi, NSW

The Smith Family Powering Potential Award

Alison recently came into the role of Principal at Bellambi and has actively worked towards strengthening and improving the relationship that the school has with The Smith Family in order to ensure better outcomes for children. Since Alison started at Bellambi Public School, we have seen an increased investment in our partnership. This spans across programs, scholarship activities and Smith Family presence at the school. Alison has ensured that The Smith Family has a regular office space to use at Bellambi Public School weekly, which makes meeting with families and delivering programs far more accessible than it was previously.


We have seen an increase of support for our programs so that our students are afforded every opportunity. Alison clearly prioritises the students of Bellambi Public School and I have particularly seen this in the feedback that families have provided since she has taken on the role of Principal.  

Staff photos New Horizons Preschool 2023 - frame 2.png

New Horizan Preschool Team 
New Horizons Preschool
Battery Point, TAS

Early Childhood Team Award

The team at New Horizons Preschool were nominated for their outstanding commitment to early years education and practice. This team is passionate about early years education and actively advocates for change, through their innovative pedagogical practices.  

With a diverse range of qualifications and experience, they work closely in collaborative teams, focusing on participatory and inclusive education, with a strong image of a competent child.  

Each member of the team brings with them a range of skills and knowledge and they are supported to be active participants, co-researching alongside the children and each other to design innovative inquiry based educational programs for 2.5 to 5 year old children.  
Each of the seven class groups at New Horizons Preschool has a team mentor, the majority of whom are Early Childhood Teachers. The team mentors work closely alongside all the staff in their team. This includes supporting ongoing professional development, encouraging constructive debate and dialogue, engaging in weekly collaborative planning and reflection and developing ongoing pedagogy.

Esme Keogh 2.jpg

Esme Keogh
Australind Senior High School
Australind, WA

Winner of the NEiTA Apple Award and the NEiTA Early Careers Teaching Award

Esme was nominated for establishing an LGBTQIA+ Alliance group at Australind Senior High School (ASHA), the first of it's kind in Bunbury. This provides a safe space for queer identifying students as well as running pride events and educational lessons.  

Esme also pioneered the Economics ATAR course for ASHS, creating a new pathway to university within the school. 

Esme is the Year 10 HASS Coordinator in 3rd year of teaching, an amazing accomplishment. 

Esme uses community building activities informed by Bennett and Tribes Learning Communities to build confidence and safety within this classroom. This allows students to identify and choose how they learn best, how they prefer to engage with the class, and what learning styles are most appropriate for them. These strategies of encouraging students to identify their own needs and find the 'expert' - be it a textbook, teacher, another student, or activity- to solve this need has led to higher levels of engagement and attendance. 

Simon Shepherd.JPG

Simon Shephard
Westminster School
Marion, SA

Winner of the NEiTA Leadership Award

Simon has worked tirelessly to help improve teacher quality, which in turn improves outcomes for students. Simon has invested in Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher (HALT) accreditation within his school, moving from having no accredited teachers at the beginning of 2020, to eight accredited teachers now. Simon has actively encouraged all the school's HALT to support HALT accreditation across the state and nationally.  

Simon is an advocate for "expert" teachers and has spoken about the impact HALT's have had in his school at both conferences and on podcasts. Simon has pushed for different career paths to allow our best teachers to stay in the classroom as a career progression opportunity.  

Simon supports continual teacher growth and has encourage an instructional coaching program to be developed within his school. Simon is keen to share the outcomes of programs such as this and encourages the leaders of these programs to support others to implement similar programs within their schools. Simon advocates for professional learning and encourages all teachers to grow. He supports this by encouraging staff to run professional learning sessions in an area of expertise.  


Coadette Low 
Mount Albert Grammar School
Mount Albert, NZ - North Island  

Winner of the NEiTA Apple Award

Coadette Low is Head of Agriculture at Mount Albert Grammar School. 

In 2019 Coadette was selected to be Action Researchers for the International Boys’ Schools Coalition with the 2019-2020 cohort focusing on ‘Developing Agency: Boy Voice and Choice’. Her research looked at ‘Developing self efficacyself-efficacy” in Year 10 Boys through a collaborative innovation task.

Coadette is a passionate Agriculture and Agribusiness teacher who goes above and beyond for her students. She mentors new teachers to the subject and offers her expertise, experience and leadership to help guide the next generation. Furthermore, she is active within the primary industry sector and NZ community and is very much a leader in this field. Coadette is an exceptional educator and in what is a predominately male sector, she is a leading light for other females educators to pursue a career in Agriculture. She is passionate, progressive and consistently seeks new ways to improve her practice.  

Rachel Armer.JPG

Rachel Arner
Warella North Public Schoo

Warilla, NSW

The Smith Family Powering Potential Award

Rachel has been a very important and supportive Acting Principal at Warilla North Public School for The Smith Family. The partnership with The Smith Family has developed profoundly under her leadership with 28 students being on our Learning for Life Scholarship, with the aim of many more families to be assisted this way.  

Rachel takes it upon herself to attend each Learning Club and has included her knowledge around Sunshine Circles with us. This is a "modality of play therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement". This has enriched not only Warilla North, but other schools in our community, as the skills she has shared with us has been utilised with other families in the Shellharbour area. 

Rachel’s nominator has witnessed a positive change in culture within the school community in the last two years that she has worked with this school. What was once considered a complex school community has changed into a vibrant safe environment.

SchP Edwards D 017 web.jpg

Daniel Edwards 
Montello Primary School

Montelo, TAS

Winner of the NEiTA Apple Award

Daniel has established a specialist STEM program within our school that teaches STEM and Digital Technologies to all students from Prep to Grade 6. As his school has such a large proportion of disadvantaged and underprivileged students, it is his mission to include and engage all students, and to open up pathways that they might not otherwise have considered.  

Through exemplary and innovative teaching practices, Daniel is able to engage 2 of 5 all students across the school and has seen incredible growth and achievement from all, not to mention many national and even international accolades for his students. His expert knowledge of STEM and Digital Technologies is widely sought after and he regularly provides professional learning opportunities for other teachers and educational professionals around the state, and even across the country online.  

Not only is Daniel's expert knowledge and innovative and exemplary teaching practices so widely sought after, but as a result, his students are now also able to support and mentor students from other schools to achieve in STEM and Digital Technologies as well. 

Matt Hopkins.png

Matt Hopkins
Port School
Hamilton Hill, WA

Winner of the NEiTA Apple Award

Matt Hopkins was nominated as he has consistently shown a strong commitment to advancing education through his implementation of Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI) and innovative teaching practices. Over the past four years, he has dedicated himself to mentoring and supporting fellow teachers, guiding them in developing engaging teaching methods. By empowering teachers, Matt has provided students with a structured and systematic learning experience, resulting in improved academic achievements and a renewed passion for learning.  

Matt's exceptional leadership and dedication have earned him the trust and confidence of the community, particularly those who have had negative experiences with the education system. Through his effective teaching methods, Matt has fostered a sense of trust and belief in the effectiveness of his approach within the community.

Donna Willams 2.jpg

Donna Williams
Elm Tree Early Learning Centre
Tauranga Central NZ - North Island 

Winner of the NEiTA Seed Award

Donna was nominated by a parent of a child attending the Elm Tree Early Learning Centre. “Donna extended my son’s learning and pounced on his motivation to learn at every level. We will be forever grateful to her for putting in the hard yards to make him the young man he is today.” 

At Elm Tree Early Learning Centre, the central philosophy is based on the RIE/Pikler principles where tamariki are respected and loved for who they are. Tamariki and whanau develop a strong sense of belonging, keeping our values in mind - LOVE, KINDNESS, RESPECT, EMPATHY, TRUST, RESILIENCE, EMPOWERMENT and PLAYFULNESS. 

We ensure relationships with tamariki, whanau, and peers are constructed from our eight values, allowing us to have open conversations and to deliver an authentic and fun local curriculum from the heart. These values are very much in line with my personal teaching philosophy where love, trust and care are key ingredients for every child's successful educational journey, along with understanding their individual developmental stage and needs.

Mina Pomare 1.jpg

Mina Paula
Te Kura Taumata O Panguru
Pangura, NZ - North Island 

Winner of the NEiTA Leadership Award

Mina is Panguru born and bred and grew up living off the land with the mātauranga, kupu, and pūrākau of Te Rarawa passed down to her. Her desire to ensure tamariki have that same mātauranga is the catalyst for our school's strong ties to our taiao, along with relationships. 

Mina has utelized Te Rarawa mātaurangatanga together with science which has led to students who are proud kaitiaki of their whenua. 

She has established and run Noho Taiao on marae in the Tai Tokerau (Northland) area, deliberating teaching Te Reo Maori me ona tikanga within this context. Noho Taiao are Environment camps that focus on learning from the environment and within the environment. The marae offers a rich learning space where there is lots of group work tasks, encouraging collaboration and leadership amongst the students with the activities. There are no activities where students work on their own like in a classroom environment. 


The use of Te Reo Maori as the main language has evolved over the past 15 years but there is still a rich bilingual base to cater for every student. The objective of this pedagogy is to instil in learners a love of their environment, of the place where they are living, of its social history, of the bio-diversity that exists there, and of the way in which people have responded and continue to respond to the environment. Maori students are catered for at these "Noho " and encouraged to attend. 

Sylvia Final Selection-1_edited.jpg

Sylvia Arotin
My Montessori School and Guide & Grow 
Kellyville Ridge, NSW

Winner of the NEiTA Seed Award

Sylvia's vision and innovation have positioned her as a transformative leader in early childhood education. With an impressive academic background, Sylvia leverages her expertise to create unique teaching strategies that ignite a love for learning. Her approach transcends theory; my children flourished under her individualized guidance, growing both personally and academically.  

Sylvia's engagement extends beyond the classroom, reaching a community of over 200,000 followers on social media. This digital engagement bridges the gap between parents and the educational process, enhancing transparency and inclusivity. Moreover, as an international speaker and trainer, she promotes best practices within the educator community, making her a lighthouse in the field. In short, Sylvia’s leadership, expertise, innovative teaching, and community engagement not only benefit students but also influence the broader educational landscape. Her personal touch was pivotal to my children's development, and I believe she truly embodies the qualities this award stands for. 

Amy Cahill.jpg

Amy Cahill 
Matthew Flinders Anglican College
Buderim, QLD

Winner of the NEiTA Apple Award

Amy was nominated a teacher of unequal commitment, not only the students in her care, but to the provision of extensive co-curricular opportunities for students P - 12, particularly in Dance and Musical Theatre. Her passion for creative arts drives her to provide rich opportunities for students in this pursuit.  

She serves as Year 5, Year Level Coordinator ensuring the highest level of teacher collective efficacy. Amy leads her team in our newly developed Flagship Centre for Year 5 students and has led and refined pedagogical approaches.

She offers her expertise in Dance through initiating an extensive Dance Co-curricular program for secondary school along with choreographing the Senior School Musical. 

She provides unwavering support to all College events, leads colleagues in school wide improvement teaching and learning projects, and enriches the lives of students through her extensive involvement in the co-curricular life of the College, including touch football, musicals and dance recitals. All require extensive rehearsals and competitions on weekends and school holidays.

Carley Bugeja headshot 2023.jpg

Carley Bugeja
Willmot Public School
Willmont, NSW

Winner of the NEiTA Leadership Award

Carley is an exceptional principal who, in a short period of time, has created a deeply inclusive culture in a school of students with complex needs, including trauma. Carley has engaged the community, with a high Aboriginal population, ensuring that they feel welcome at all times.  

The Yarning Circle that features proudly at the front of the school is used regularly by students, and their families as a place to meet and chat. Former students regularly return to the school to utilise this space as they feel valued and safe. 


Student voice is also a priority for Carley, and this has had a significant impact on the improvement in attendance. Under Carley's outstanding leadership the standard of professional practice and drive to engage students in their learning has become a priority, closely supported by rich and authentic wellbeing programs and processes that provide wrap-around support for all students.

Amie Roberts_edited.jpg

Amie Roberts
Ngā hau e wha - Cluster 28 Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour (RTLB)
Tauranga Central, NZ - North Island 

Winner of the NEiTA Apple Award and the NEiTA Teaching Mentor Award

Amie was nominated as she has worked tirelessly in her job to support schools in her cluster to implement Structured Literacy (SL). She has worked with all levels of teachers to implement SL at different levels, using different resources appropriate to each level.  
She has been met with scepticism, opposition and indifference, but she has persevered to give children in Wellington the best possible reading start.  

She has encouraged teachers to attend professional development, encouraged school libraries to stock books for children with dyslexia and worked with individual children to improve their reading. She has an unfailingly cheerful personality and is so passionate about literacy and her job.  

She has a vision that encompasses the whole cluster, rather than just school by school and has lifted literacy in this corner of Wellington. Amie is a great communicator, prompt in her support and just super to deal with all round. 

bottom of page