Exceptional educators recognised at QCT awards

St Patrick's College Gympie
Jessica Walker Former St Patrick's College, Gympie, student Jessica Walker received the inaugural Dr Joe McCorley Award for Outstanding Contribution to School Community at the annual QCT Excellence in Teaching Awards

A FORMER St Patrick's College, Gympie, student has won the inaugural Dr Joe McCorley Award for Outstanding Contribution to School Community at the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) 2018 Excellence in Teaching Awards.

Jessica Walker, Deputy Principal at Yeronga State High School (YSHS), received the award, introduced this year to recognise inspirational teachers who are the heart of the school community, on the eve of World Teachers' Day celebrations across Australia.

The awards showcased exceptional teachers who demonstrated creative and innovative ways they worked in all school communities across the state.

Jessica was among 27 finalists and 230 nominations across five award categories.

In her thank you speech Jessica said she was a proud graduate of St Pat's and that it was a Catholic education that formed her views on the importance of inclusion and social justice.

Her passion and determination to make a difference also won the former YSHS Head of EALD (English as an Additional Language or Dialect) the Department of Education International Women's Day Award.

Jessica galvanised her school community to advocate for the release of Iranian asylum seeker Mojgan Shamsalipoor, who faced deportation back to her home country.

For months, Jessica and YSHS staff had spoken to students, their families and their lawyers about changes to visas for asylum seekers.

Under the changes some students would no longer have a right to a high school education once they turned 18.

They also could not apply for tertiary studies as domestic students.  

YSHS staff watched on as Mojgan, who was brought to school by immigration detention security guards, was denied asylum.

Then one day they heard the 19-year-old was transferred to a Darwin immigration detention centre.

“That is when we just went 'No, enough is enough now; we can't be just silently standing by any more'," Ms Walker, said.

There were other students in similar circumstances, and under Ms Walker's lead, the school's staff and parents began to advocate for Mojgan's release.

“State education is about social justice and it's about ensuring that everybody has the right to learn and have the same human rights that we're all afforded.

“You have to speak up when you see those things that aren't being provided for students, you have to speak up for your students," Ms Walker said.

has boosted the number of teachers, teacher aides and school support staff who came from different cultural backgrounds.

This enabled better communication between staff and students.

Parent-teacher interview attendance went up 300 per cent once school staff were able to communicate to parents in the same language.

Scholarships for refugee students, boosted welfare and support services have all been provided under the leadership of Ms Walker, who said she was proud to work at a school which embraced diversity and celebrated it as its strength and point of difference. 

“We're a global village in this tiny little spot in Brisbane and the greatest thing I have seen is the kids feeling welcome here, that they are all part of this Yeronga State High School community and that that is the thing they have in common – their humanity is what they have in common – there are all these differences, but through the differences they find the things that are the same," Ms Walker said. 

All Hallows' School eLearning coordinator Stephen Crapnell was also recognised at the awards for changing the way teachers and students have interacted for more than 100 years through “flipped learning".

Mr Crapnell received the Dr John Dwyer Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning Award for his engagement with emerging technology to change the way teachers provided students with feedback.

The preliminary move to flipped learning – which incorporated video lessons being watched by students at home – in some subjects, meant students had access to teachers' lessons and advice at any time.

The Mathematics teacher said his school's focus on 'the evolution of feedback' over the past two years had allowed teachers and students to have a 'digitally mediated conversation'.

“In other words, the technology underpins the ability for us to provide audio, visual, digital and video feedback," he said.

“We need it to be specific and timely, but also the key here was giving students the chance to respond … feedback has now become a lot more two-way," he said.

Mr Crapnell, who was instrumental in developing an annual All Hallows' eLearning conference, has also created and developed a network of eLearning co-ordinators across the greater Brisbane area to draw from the collective wisdom of local educators on the forefront of this learning area.

In April he was named by the Flipped Learning 3.0 Magazine as one of the top 100 flipped learning educators internationally.

stephen campbell.jpg

All Hallows' School eLearning coordinator Stephen Crapnell was recognised for changing the way teachers and students have interacted
for more than 100 years through flipped learning technologies​

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