Exemplary educators win Spirit of Catholic Week awards

St Paul's Catholic Primary School
Jon Sorohan (centre) and his team with St Paul's Principal Matt Mackinlay and students outside St Paul's Community Hub 

TWO Brisbane Catholic Education teachers have been acknowledged with a Spirit of Catholic Education Award for their outstanding contributions to the life of a Catholic school community.

Jon Sorohan, who has worked in Catholic education for more than 25 years, and Rosemarie Dwyer, an advocate for Australia's First Nations, were among eight people who received the prestigious awards. 

Through his work at St Paul's School, Woodridge, Community Hub, Jon has created programs and activities for refugee, migrant and asylum seeker families that matched the needs expressed by the school and wider community.  

He liaises with outside agencies to provide the best care for families who are at the margins and was constantly engaged in making life better for those in the community who were struggling. 

St Paul's Principal Matt Mackinlay said Jon was an invaluable “conduit" between the Community Hub and the school community. 

“Jon is a tireless and passionate advocate for the students and families in our school who are in need," Matt said. 

“He goes above and beyond to work with parents and students, to provide them with love and care and often, the basic elements of life.  

“Most of all he has a listening ear and a passionate heart for the needs of those who are marginalised.  

“Jon builds hope in our community members and students and offers them hope to achieve more," Matt said. 

Jon said the Spirit of Catholic Award validated the fantastic work being done by everyone at St Paul's School. 

“You can't be man of the match if you're not part of a good team," he said. 

“The people we have here are amazing, from the school officers, teaching staff, administration team and the team that work in the Community Partnerships Program. 

“It all runs like clockwork and that's part of why we are so successful with what we do here." 

Jon said it was exciting both for himself and for the school to be recognised by the rest of the Catholic education community across Queensland. 

In her two years at St Augustine's College, Augustine Heights, Rosemarie, who received this year's Aunty Joan Hendricks Spirit of Catholic Education Reconciliation Award, has done outstanding work in being an advocate for, and a constant support to, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) students and their families.  

Since she started in the role, which extended across Prep to Year 12, the college experienced a marked increase in the attendance and engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.  

For students disengaged with the college she has been a consistent and caring support to help build confidence to engage in learning. 

She has implemented a Deadly Choices program and created time and space for yarning circles, allowing Indigenous families an opportunity to form stronger partnerships with the school community.  

This year, for the first time, the college also created a First Nations Student Leadership role for a Year 12 student so ATSI students had a voice and role model coming from within the student cohort. 

Rosemarie said receiving the award was an indication of how the college had made a difference in a short space of time. 

“When we work together as a team we can achieve a lot," she said. 

“It's empowering for staff here to know that it's the small things we do every day that make a big difference in a child's life. 

“If we can keep doing those small things, like celebrating Aboriginal culture, moving forward on a path of reconciliation and knowing that we are making a difference that empowerment will take us much further than we have gone before." 

Principal Graham Meertens said Rose was a passionate advocate for the college's ATSI students and a valued member of staff. 

“She was instrumental in ensuring staff understood the importance of acknowledgement of country or welcome to country protocols being part of our gathering times as a college.  

“In all things, Rose is a humble, tireless teacher who often gives of her own time to support the engagement and learning of our students," he said.  

Spirit of CEW awards 2.jpg

​Rosemarie Dwyer with members of St Augustine's Deadly Crew  

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