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Congratulations to the 2021 Victorian Education Excellence Awards winners

The winners have been announced for the 2021 Victorian Education Excellence awards. Eight individual awards and six team awards were presented to recognise outstanding endeavour and achievement in improving student outcomes in government schools across Victoria.

VIT would like to congratulate all the winners and finalists who have made an amazing contribution to Victorian school education.

Outstanding Early Career Primary Teacher

Tiffany Thomas, Melton Primary School

Tiffany had a unique start to her teaching career, commencing at Melton Primary School in June 2020. Immediately immersed in remote teaching her very first class of grade six students, Tiffany quickly climbed a steep learning curve to engage with her students and colleagues she was yet to meet face-to-face. 

Tiffany focused firstly on building a rapport with her students and their families. Working diligently, she actively listened, formed understanding of other's perspectives, demonstrated discretion, respect and compassion, framing her questions constructively to identify and remove any barriers to remote learning. Expertly guiding the transition back to onsite learning, she continued to provide a responsive learning experience for all students. 

In a very short period of time, Tiffany has formed an exceptional knowledge of her students and their point of learning, adapting and adjusting her lessons accordingly, differentiating the individual learning needs of each. Now an instrumental member of the school's Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) leadership team, Tiffany is already a high-level contributor to whole-school improvement.

Outstanding Primary Teacher

Erin Beissel, Clarinda Primary School

Erin is applying evidence-based research and professional learning to drive improvement in teaching practices, and particularly in literacy instruction. 

Working from a strong foundation of learning and research, Erin has led the implementation of a consistent whole-school model of literacy instruction: the Reader's and Writer's Workshop, based on the Gradual Release of Responsibility model. 

Erin's use of a range of professional development settings has brought staff on board and changed their instructional practices to ensure high-quality learning outcomes for every student. Erin has worked with staff to embed different elements of the High Impact Teaching Strategies (HITS) into the new literacy instruction model, embedding tools such as differentiation, feedback, goal setting and explicit teaching, and applying data and evidence to support her instructional leadership. 

Erin's enthusiastic implementation of the new workshop model for Clarinda Primary has created a culture responsive to continuous learning and improvement, and focused on the best interests of students and school community.

Outstanding Secondary Teacher

Rachael Gore, Albert Park College

Rachael is an innovative educator and numeracy leader, whose use of technology and engagement with students and teachers has contributed to Albert Park College's modernised approach to teaching. 

Rachael's pioneering of important new technologies in the classroom and her influential contribution to the college's (leading) professional learning program, has been instrumental in revolutionising the way mathematics, and other disciplines, are taught across the school. Creating a Numeracy Portal that provides online curriculum and numeracy support for Middle Years and Integration Aides, Rachael has also initiated multiple workshops and coaching sessions with teams and individuals that model numeracy teaching excellence, working with peers to design curriculum that embeds numeracy intervention. 

Rachael believes strongly in the potential of young people and is a major contributor to the College's positive education program. Rachael's commitment to improving students' welfare and levels of achievement has seen her students obtain perfect scores, win state-wide awards and score well-above the average for their final year results.

Outstanding Early Career Secondary Teacher

Daniel King, Lowanna College

In only his third year of teaching, Daniel has led Lowanna College's Professional Learning Community, Middle Years Literacy and Numeracy Support initiative and the Tutor Learning Initiative, and has been instrumental in strong numeracy growth, evidenced in much improved NAPLAN numeracy results (2018-20). 

Working with peers to design and implement a data collection and analysis schedule and student progress tracking tools, Daniel's outstanding contribution has been critical to the refinement, evolution and effectiveness of the College's numeracy improvement plan. In addition to this work, Daniel leads weekly professional learning for educational support staff to build their mathematical capacity and confidence, enabling them to more actively participate in differentiated support within the classroom. 

Ensuring maths is engaging and accessible to all students regardless of ability or background, Daniel is working with students who are well below the minimum standard in mathematics, using diagnostic tests to identify mathematical misconceptions and designing tasks to address these misconceptions, resulting in outstanding improvement in students' outcomes.

Outstanding Physical Education and Activity Teacher

Chloe Dew, Black Hill Primary School

Physical Education teacher Chloe Dew, demonstrates a whole-school and community perspective on improvement at Black Hill Primary School. 

To promote positive health and a physically active culture, Chloe engages with digitally innovative, inclusive and culturally responsive education practices, creating an environment where students feel more empowered to have their say – not only in shaping their own learning, but in understanding the positive results of their agency. 

Chloe's rethinking of Physical Education delivery through cross-curricular lessons has increased student engagement and enabled all students to benefit from differentiated learning. During remote learning, Chloe embraced the opportunity to educate families about current physical education practices via a virtual classroom, engaging the whole family in her lessons. 

Chloe's roles as educational leader, board director with ACHPER Victoria and Region Coordinator with School Sport Victoria provide testament to her belief that the more connections she makes across school and community, the greater her ability to deliver high-quality learning opportunities for her students.

Outstanding Primary Principal

Garry Rolfe, Cranbourne East Primary School

Principal Garry Rolfe is well-known as a longstanding principal in the South-East region, dedicating much of his career to the Casey South Network where he has very successfully led two quite different schools – Cranbourne Primary School and Cranbourne East Primary School. 

Now leading Cranbourne East Primary, Garry has worked closely with all stakeholders since the early planning stages of the school, establishing his vision to foster happy, safe and engaged students in an inclusive, information technology-rich and student-centred global learning environment. 

 Garry's strategic management and leadership firmly positions students' needs at the centre of all decision-making and targeted resource allocation, and establishes the value of high expectations in supporting student achievement and wellbeing. 

A strong advocate of evidenced-based teaching and learning initiatives, Garry's highly effective and distributed leadership approach has significantly increased the professional learning and leadership capacity of his staff, and continues to make a significant contribution to the building of system-wide leadership capacity across network schools in the region.

Colin Simpson Outstanding Secondary Principal

Deborah Harman, Balwyn High School

Deborah Harman, Principal of Balwyn High School for the last thirteen years, has led with an aspirational educational vision that sets challenging goals for teaching and support staff, and promotes school and system-wide commitment to achieving excellence in student outcomes. 

Balwyn High School has an outstanding record of excellence in VCE outcomes. The record of perfect ATAR scores students have achieved under Deborah's principalship is testament to the culture that has been built around excellence and her unwavering commitment to the sustained improvement of public education. 

Deborah has mentored four aspiring principals through Bastow's Unlocking Potential program, investing in their development well beyond their time at Balwyn High School, including supporting their successful transition to principalship. 

Recently completed building works at the school are the result of the largest self-funded project in government school history. Deborah's courage and leadership was instrumental in raising the support and funds necessary to provide these state-of-the-art learning facilities.

View all the 2021 award winners.