Dedicated teacher recognised with inspirational award

St John Fisher College, Bracken Ridge

St John Fisher College students Courtney Winter, Kaiyah Gordon and Marina Pataanga with 2019 Inspirational Teacher of the Year Bernie Toohey

WORLD Teachers’ Day will be that little bit extra special this year for St John Fisher College, Bracken Ridge, teacher Bernie Toohey.

The college’s HPE (Health and Physical Education) teacher and Years 7/8 coordinator was named the 2019 ACHPER (Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation) Inspirational Teacher of the Year in front of more than 800 schoolgirls from Queensland schools and colleges at the annual Women in Sport Breakfast held at the University of Queensland. 

The award coincided with World Teachers’ Day, a timely opportunity to acknowledge the positive difference teachers made to young people’s lives. 

Mrs Toohey, who has been working in education since graduating from UQ in 1990, runs the college’s Years 7 and 8 HPE program as well as the college’s netball program.

She said she felt incredibly honoured to receive such a special award.

“I know first-hand that there are so many amazing, hardworking HPE teachers in other schools across the state,” she said

“I am definitely one of the lucky ones.

“I work in a wonderful college where the students and school community have gone out of their way to show their appreciation for my commitment and passion as an HPE teacher.”

Mrs Toohey said as a former UQ graduate, as well as being both a mother and an HPE teacher, it gave her great personal satisfaction to receive the prestigious award at a Women in Sport event in front of her two remarkable daughters who, to her delight, were both currently studying to be teachers.

“Perhaps I should retire soon and pass on the baton,” she said.

“Fortunately, I still wake up every day loving my job, so I honestly don’t see myself giving up teaching any time soon.”

Mrs Toohey also expressed her gratitude to the students, Courtney Winter, Marina Pataanga and Kaiyah Gordon, who nominated her for the award with the support of the college’s Head of Sport, Tamara Sparks.

All keen St John Fisher College netballers, Courtney, Marina and Kaiyah said they saw Mrs Toohey as an inspiration both on and off the netball court.

Marina said the qualities of a health and physical education teacher were difficult to assess, but easy to spot.

“Mrs Toohey is one of the most dedicated, hardworking, fun-loving teachers at St John Fisher College,” she said.

“She expects great effort and accomplishment from her students, regardless of the level they are working at; constantly helping students work towards reaching their goals.”

Ms Sparks said Bernie’s passion for sport was fierce as was her dedication to her students. 

She said Mrs Toohey was recognised for her great commitment to the college, training, running and organising 13 interschool netball teams.

In addition, Mrs Toohey coordinated and coached the Vicki Wilson junior and senior netball teams as well as the junior, intermediate and senior QC Cup netball teams, the QISSN netball team who compete in the largest independent schools’ netball carnival each year and recently become team manager for USC (University of the Sunshine Coast) Thunder competing in the inaugural Hart Sapphire Series.

“Bernie has been instrumental in the uprise and recent success of netball at St John Fisher College.

“With more than 30 years of netball experience at the State, Australian and International levels, including previous team manager of the Queensland Firebirds and Australian U16 Schoolgirls Teams, she is an absolute asset to the college”, Ms Sparks said.

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