2019 Australian Teacher Aide of the Year

Congratulations to the Winner, the State Finalists, and all the Highly Commended teacher aides in this year's Australian Teacher Aide of the Year Awards, for making an outstanding contribution to student learning and wellbeing at your school. 

Australian Teacher Aide of the Year

Jacque Mengel

Maribyrnong Primary School, ACT

Nominated by: Anna Thorpe, Disability Education Coordinator

Jacque Mengel, a teacher aide at Maribyrnong Primary School, is the ACT Finalist in the Australian Teacher Aide of the Year Awards. 

Anna Thorpe, the Disability Education Coordinator at the school, said Jacque has been an educator with the Learning Support Unit, since 2002, and has seen more than 238 students with disability graduate. 

Jacque’s nomination highlights her integral role to student success, both within the unit, and across the whole school. She has contributed to improved student outcomes in literacy and numeracy, and improved communication between families and the school which has resulted in increased attendance for over 17 children this year. 

Jacque works closely with external agencies to maximise access to support programs and has developed enhanced individual learning plans which have ensured that all services are working towards the same targets to maximise student outcomes. She advocates for student wellbeing, actively promotes community awareness of mental health, and the development of safe spaces for students to discuss their concerns and needs.  

Jacque is also an active participant in professional learning and mentors new inclusion support team staff. Jacque has facilitated whole staff training in the So Safe program, as well as in Auslan for educators.

State Finalist

Jeanette Hillier

Glen Innes Public School, NSW

Nominated by: Nikki Lee, Assistant Principal - Learning and Support and Wellbeing

Jeanette Hillier, a learning support officer at Glen Innes Public School, is the New South Wales Finalist in the Australian Teacher Aide of the Year Awards. 

Nikki Lee, the Assistant Principal, Learning Support and Wellbeing, at the school, said Jeanette works across a variety of classrooms with students requiring additional support with behaviour. 

Jeanette’s nomination highlights her ability to connect with students and develop great rapport. This has resulted in one student returning to full-time attendance, and re-engaging in the classroom and playground.  

Jeanette updates teachers on student progress, and provides information and suggestions to the learning support team on the learning needs of students, and has assisted to identify triggers which have been used to develop behaviour support strategies. 

Jeanette is known for her positive outlook, and has trained the school’s basketball teams, touch football teams and rugby league team in her own time, as well as mentoring young referees.

State Finalist

Allyce Day

Casuarina Street Primary School, NT

Nominated by: Elizabeth Smith, Impact Coach and Highly Accomplished Teacher

Allyce Day, a student support mentor at Casuarina Street Primary School, is the Northern Territory Finalist in the Australian Teacher Aide of the Year Awards.

Elizabeth Smith, the school’s Impact Coach and a classroom teacher, said Allyce works tirelessly to support students of all abilities and the colleagues with whom she works.

Allyce’s nomination highlights her ability to work with students with diverse needs, including Aboriginal students, students with Autism, and students with unidentified learning needs. She has built her understanding of Zones of Regulation, and used this to identify behaviour triggers and to support students to appropriately regulate their emotions. She also works with students to help them meet their reading achievements, and through her work in this area, she has supported a number of students to exceed growth expectations.

She has worked with colleagues to successfully introduce individual learning timetables that include movement breaks, sensory breaks or check-ins with staff, resulting in a student, who previously was fearful that work was too difficult, now positively engaging in learning.  She has also completed many online training courses to expand her knowledge and shares this back to staff by coaching other student support mentors to build their capacity to work with students.

State Finalist

Wendy Nicholls

Crestmead State School, QLD

Nominated by: Emma-Lee Boulton, Special Education Support Teacher

Wendy Nicholls, a teacher aide at Crestmead State School, is the Queensland Finalist in the Australian Teacher Aide of the Year Awards. 

Emma Lee-Boulton, a Special Education Support Teacher at the school, said Wendy has been a dedicated teacher aide for over 25 years, and works tirelessly to support the social, emotional and curriculum needs of students from Prep to Year 6. 

Wendy’s nomination highlights her ability to work effectively with students with disability, and diverse cultural backgrounds. She also provides training and support to other teacher aides, and facilitates the training of the MAPA Program (Management of Actual or Potential Aggression) to teaching staff. 

This year Wendy worked with Emma-Lee, and the school’s Special Education Deputy, to develop a program which allows students to self-regulate, de-escalate, and re-engage in learning. This program, thanks to Wendy’s tireless efforts, has decreased students with disability suspension rates by more than 25% and increased the inclusion of students with complex needs in the regular classroom.

State Finalist

Wendy Connor

Mawson Lakes School, SA

Nominated by: Sue Lemmer, Deputy Principal

Wendy Connor, a school learning support officer (SLSO) at Mawson Lakes, is the South Australian Finalist in the Australian Teacher Aide of the Year Awards.

Sue Lemmer, the Deputy Principal at the school, said Wendy has had an amazing impact on student learning and achievement over many years, providing both intervention and extension for a wide range of students.

Wendy’s nomination highlights her skills in supporting mathematics learning, where she is able to provide advice and support to teaching staff. In 2018 she was asked to present at the State Literacy and Numeracy Expo.

Wendy leads others to embrace student agency and adapts processes to ensure students are in control of their learning. She understands learners as individuals and tailors her approach to students’ learning style.  She works in class alongside teachers, and withdraws individuals and small groups of students, as well as offering drop-in sessions where students can attend for specific help with their learning.

Wendy leads innovation, is reflective of her practice, and runs training for new support staff to build consistency in how they work.  She is committed to lifelong learning and models this to others by seeking out professional development opportunities.

State Finalist

Sandra Becker

Evandale Primary School, TAS

Nominated by: Jennifer Gadsby, Principal

Sandra Becker, a teacher assistant at Evandale Primary School, is the Tasmanian Finalist in the Australian Teacher Aide of the Year Awards. 

Jennifer Gadsby, the Principal at the school, said Sandra is an outstanding teacher assistant, who has worked at the school for many years, which was also attended by her husband and now adult children. 

Sandra’s nomination highlights her work with students across many areas. She leads two eLearning extension programs where she encourages students who are at risk of underachieving to strive to do their best, and to take risks and think beyond the square. Sandra has learnt to manage this digital platform and now coaches other staff. 

Sandra also leads an intervention program in speech therapy and is helping students make outstanding progress. She is a key member of the teaching team trialling cross-set phonics, which has seen an impressive growth in student learning. 

Sandra leads a special Music Makers Program, which supports students with low self-esteem and social skills. She manages the planning and resources for this program, and is always coming up with new ideas to help students succeed. 

Sandra is a strong advocate for the school within the community, and the school regularly draws on her local connections and knowledge of the town.

State Finalist

Donna Holman

Bellarine Secondary College, VIC

Nominated by: Barbara Luppino, PSD Coordinator - Drysdale Campus

Donna Holman, a learning mentor at Bellarine Secondary College, is the Victorian Finalist in the Australian Teacher Aide of the Year Awards.

Barbara Luppino, the PSD Coordinator at the college, said Donna is a dedicated, hardworking educator who is focused on supporting students with their learning and success in the classroom.

Donna’s nomination highlights her ability to differentiate the curriculum for students with specific needs, and her extensive knowledge of the PSD (Program for Students with Disabilities) program. Donna has recommended and helped to implement strategies such as reciprocal teaching and Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Donna is a team player, suggests ideas and different approaches, and guides staff on ways to better modify work for specific students. She believes in putting her professional learning into practice, and recently presented at a college forum about a conference on ADHD. 

State Finalist

Michelle Chapple

Mater Dei Catholic College, WA

Nominated by: Shirley Fullam, Education Assistant

Michelle Chapple, an education assistant at Mater Dei Catholic College, is the Western Australian Finalist in the Australian Teacher Aide of the Year Awards.

Shirley Fullam, an Education Assistant at the school, said Michelle has spent many years supporting students with special needs, and given generously of her own time to assist students to work to the best of their ability and reach their goals.

Michelle’s nomination highlights her understanding of student wellbeing. She mentors students with a range of social and emotional issues, including anxiety and school refusal, in a non-judgemental and professional manner. She also collaborates with staff to adjust IEPs (Individual Education Plan) and CAPs (Curriculum Accommodation Plan) to meet student needs. She was engaged in establishing a Quick Start numeracy program to assist students to achieve their potential.

She also has a personal interest in indigenous education and was recently involved in the Whadjuk Gift which is a reconciliation initiative encouraging students to learn and celebrate aboriginal history and culture. Michelle coordinates the staff wellbeing committee and plans activities to create a positive working environment for staff.

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Wellbeing

Belinda Graudins

Rosny College, TAS

Nominated by: Paul Barron, Assistant Principal

Belinda has been highly commended for her contribution to student wellbeing, in particular for introducing Taiko drumming for students with disability, and the positive impact it has had on student learning and inclusion.

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Wellbeing

Alex Savill

Driver Primary School, NT

Nominated by: Ranae Graham, Assistant Principal

Alex has been highly commended for her positive impact on student learning and wellbeing, in particular for her work in Special Education supporting students in the early years, and building positive partnerships with families.

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Wellbeing

Bradley Kermond

Eastside Lutheran College, TAS

Nominated by: Larissa Oates, Emma Hassett, Geoff Freeman, Natalie Wardle, Kate Williams

Bradley has been highly commended for his high quality contribution to student learning and wellbeing, in particular for supporting the learning of students with diverse needs, and his contribution to Indonesian language classes. 

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Achievement

Colleen Mene

Djarragun College, QLD

Nominated by: Michael Barton, Deputy Principal

Colleen has been highly commended for her positive impact on student learning and achievement, in particular for bridging the gap between school and community, and using her first languages, Yarrie Lingo and Gurra-buna to engage students.

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Achievement

Damon Grimwood

Mercy College Mackay, QLD

Nominated by: Doug Bettington, Teacher

Damon has been highly commended for his positive impact on student learning and achievement, in particular for collaborating with teachers to support the learning of students with diverse needs.

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Wellbeing

David Els

Meridan College, QLD

Nominated by: Felicity Day, Student Engagement Teacher

David has been highly commended for his contribution to student wellbeing, in particular for supporting students from Prep to Year 6 to engage with the curriculum, and for going above and beyond to ensure students have the best day possible. 

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Achievement

Emma Swain

Goodwood Primary School, TAS

Nominated by: School Leadership Team

Emma has been highly commended for her positive impact on student learning and achievement, in particular for her contribution to student learning success as Literacy Support Intervention Aide, and for being an early adopter of change and driver of self-improvement.

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Achievement

Jade Sutton

Bundaberg North State High School, QLD

Nominated by: Andrew Humphrey, Coordinator - JETS Pathway Program

Jade has been highly commended for her outstanding contribution to student learning and achievement, in particular for her work with the JETS program, assisting indigenous students. Jade has been described as the heart and soul of the program, who has brought light into the lives of many young people. 

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Wellbeing

Jarred Calcott

Macleay Island State School, QLD

Nominated by: Glenda Seawright, Michael Coenen, Anette Quince and Shaye Pendrigh

Jarred has been highly commended for his contribution to student learning and wellbeing, in particular for supporting students with diverse needs to feel safe, included and to experience success. At school, Jarred is known as the "Child Whisperer".

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Achievement

Louise Moneghetti

Loreto College Ballarat, VIC

Nominated by: Helena Harrison, Learning Support Officer

Louise has been highly commended for her positive impact on student learning and achievement, in particular for supporting the learning of students with diverse needs, and her mentoring of new support staff.

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Wellbeing

Natalie Woods

Rouse Hill Anglican College, NSW

Nominated by: Sophie Jones, Nicole Knezevic and Kristy Parker

Natalie has been highly commended for her positive impact on student learning and wellbeing, in particular for going above and beyond to support students with diverse needs.

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Achievement

Nicki Patrick

Somerset College, QLD

Nominated by: Anne Rowe, Year 7 Coordinator

Nikki has been highly commended for her positive impact on student learning and achievement, in particular for scaffolding students with diverse needs, to improve as learners.

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Achievement

Nicole Madsen

Triabunna District School, TAS

Nominated by: Tanya Britton, Principal

Nicole has been highly commended for her positive impact on student learning and achievement, in particular for initiating the 24 Carrot Kitchen Garden Project.

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Wellbeing

Tanya Pettman

Dunalley Primary School, TAS

Nominated by: Sabine Westbrook, Teacher

Tanya has been highly commended for her positive impact on student learning and wellbeing, in particular for supporting students with additional needs, her work as a Speech and Literacy Aide, and for going above and beyond to support families, students and staff impacted by the 2013 bush fires.

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Achievement

Tracey Leebody

Bremer State High School, QLD

Nominated by: Ryan Du Toit, Head of Department - Numeracy

Tracey has been highly commended for her positive impact on student learning and achievement, in particular for leadership of the Year 7-9 Junior Learning Support program, and for effectively supporting the diverse learning needs of students.

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Achievement

Valarie Doyle

Cunnamulla P-12 State School, QLD

Nominated by: David Grant and Marg McLaren

Valerie has been highly commended for her positive impact on student learning and achievement, in particular for supporting students with diverse learning needs, and for promoting an inclusive and connected school culture. 

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Wellbeing

Vanessa McPherson

Runcorn Heights State School, QLD

Nominated by: Kristy Johnston, Teacher

Vanessa has been highly commended for her positive impact on student learning and wellbeing, in particular for her valuable contribution to Special Education, and for being selected to participate in a trial of a new inclusion model. 

Highly Commended - Student Learning and Achievement

Zarah Murray

Tamborine Mountain State High School, QLD

Nominated by: Tracey Brose, Principal

Zarah has been highly commended for her positive impact on student learning and achievement, in particular for her work as Industry Liaison Officer, and significant impact on work experience, traineeships and apprenticeship opportunities.