In a year like no other, some of New Zealand’s top primary and secondary school educators have had their efforts recognised and celebrated with 2020 National Excellence in Teaching Awards (NEiTA).
The six recipients, ranging from beginner teachers to long-standing principals, were announced in true 2020 style: online, for the first time in the Awards’ 26-year history.
NEiTA chairman Allen Blewitt said each of this year’s winners have demonstrated, in 2020, that student and teacher welfare is at least as important as educational outcomes.
“Judges placed a high weight on how educators were able to meet students’ heightened socio-emotional needs. Lockdown and school closures presented risks of isolation for many youths, yet technology also provided powerful communication tools that allowed some students to thrive personally, socially and in learning,” says Blewitt.
The 2020 National Excellence in Teaching Awards’ winners are:
Moana Tautua of Te Papapa School (Onehunga, Auckland) – Inaugural Early Career Award
Laura Wheeler of Meadowbank School (Meadowbank, Auckland)
David Ivory of St John’s College (Hastings)
Caroline Robertson of Samuel Marsden Collegiate School (Wellington) – ASG Parents’ Award
Nick Coughlan of One Tree Hill College (Penrose, Auckland) – NEiTA Founders’ Principals Award for Leadership
Richard Crawford of Fairfield College (Hamilton) – NEiTA Founders’ Principals Award for Leadership
Here, we celebrate the winners…
Moana Tautua was honoured with NEiTA NZ’s inaugural Early Career Award. Tautua is only in her fourth year of teaching after a successful career in the media. She established a junior bilingual unit, Te Purapura, at her school. Despite COVID-19, she built strong relationships with her tamariki and their whanau through her vision of restoring mana to te reo Māori. Tautua’s pupils actively engage in learning, whilst developing their identities and sense of self-worth through the digital learning programme she designed.
By term three, Te Purapura students were reading in both English and Te Reo. Tautua’s nominator said, “Māori within Te Purapura are genuinely succeeding as Māori. Moana is an asset to our community and deserves to be recognised as an exceptional teacher and leader.”
Laura Wheeler and David Ivory are recognised for their outstanding contributions to student education and welfare. Wheeler’s experience moving her primary school classroom online in recent years has paid dividends in 2020. During Auckland’s two lockdowns, she gamified her classroom and successfully reached children previously unable to read nor write, demonstrating her leadership credentials by leading an e-learning project at her school.
Over the last four years teaching at a low decile school, Dr Ivory has supported students from diverse backgrounds in winning multiple national awards for work outside the classroom. He engages with the community, including prison inmates and those struggling with alcohol addiction. “Dr Ivory gives his students hope and has high expectations for them; he is an exceptional teacher,” says his nominator.
Inaugural Parents’ Award
Caroline Robertson wins the inaugural ASG Parents’ Award in New Zealand. The honour is presented to a teacher who parents nominate as having made a significant difference to the lives of their students, school families and communities.
Robertson is a German teacher who combined humour with real life interactive activities in her online classes and posted videos during lockdown. Parent nominators say she has a flair for immersing the students in hilarious foreign language conversations no matter what their level, boosting their confidence and wellbeing. During lockdown, Robertson’s other role as director of international students came to the fore as she took on the pastoral care for visiting international students grounded in NZ, and orchestrated international learning experiences for local students.
Nick Coughlan and Richard Crawford were each announced winner of a NEiTA Founders’ Principals Award for Leadership. Both school principals, they were recognised for their outstanding stewardship of student education.
Coughlan’s nominator said that throughout this year, Nick has displayed outstanding leadership at One Tree Hill College in Auckland. “Under lockdown he was calm and lead from the front, with strong communication as key. Nick is highly community focused and parents, staff and students all felt supported and listened to. He spent hours working with the Ministry to help students access devices and hard copy materials during lockdown.”
With 31 years of experience in the teaching profession, Crawford is a respected principal at Fairfield College in Hamilton and a community leader who is lead principal of 18 schools in his region. His nominator says, “Richard’s practice is built on trust and true cultural sensitivity; he maintains a high degree of viability and approachability for his teachers, students and parents. He leads a school that has also become a leader, having started with it when it was in statutory management. He is a strong believer in the importance of culture.”
Awards background and sponsor
The National Excellence in Teaching Awards began in New Zealand in 1996. Each award recipient receives a certificate, a handblown crystal apple trophy and a development grant of $5,000 for teachers and $10,000 for principals.
Award sponsor Futurity Investment Group’s CEO Ross Higgins said each of these educators has displayed outstanding resilience, passion and creativity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At the start of the year, a majority of our parent members felt that that the role and professionalism of teachers was under-appreciated by the wider community. Perhaps a silver-lining of a challenging year for all is that the pandemic has amplified the essential role these educators play in the community.”