Standout teachers honoured for work

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 12:10 27/05/2014
Langford Store

TOP MARKS: Former Nayland College teacher Annie McCreary, left, and Parklands School teacher Fiona Cook, in the picture at right, receive teaching excellence awards from Education Minister Hekia Parata.

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Two teachers from the Nelson region have been recognised for their dedication to their profession by Education Minister Hekia Parata in a national awards ceremony.

Annie McCreary, who taught at Nayland College, and Fiona Cook from Parklands School in Motueka were among 12 teachers given the National Excellence in Teaching awards.

They were the only two teachers from the South Island out of hundreds of nominations for the teaching awards.

The awards were established by ASG Education Programs New Zealand 18 years ago to promote excellence in teaching. The teachers were nominated by those in their school community.

Annie McCreary taught technology, fashion and design and textiles at Nayland College. She resigned at the end of last year after teaching at the school for 14 years.

She said she was "humbled" by the award, given to her at a ceremony last week at Parliament. "I was pretty humbled and honoured that people thought the job I am doing is worth a bigger recognition."

McCreary worked as a teacher as well as a providing support to staff and inductions to new teachers to the school.

She said she expected excellence from her students, and worked to remove barriers students may come up against to achieve this.

This included giving out apples to avoid the afternoon slump in concentration.

In her class, 90 per cent of low level students achieved all credits and improved attendance rates.

She said she worked to be a good example to her students through the school.

"[I was] supporting them and showing them they can do it and not taking no for an answer. I work my hardest and if I expect excellence from the kids . . . then I think I need to model that."

She also believed the award was due to trying to make the classes a fun environment and teaching skills relevant to her students. A sense of humour and listening to what students said went a long way as well, she added.

It was a "very, very difficult" decision to leave Nayland but she and husband, fellow Nayland teacher Jock McCreary wanted to move to the North Island.

"I couldn't find another school as good as Nayland, but had to go regardless."

She said Nayland was a great fit to her teaching philosophy.

"It allows students to have success across a wide range of things, rather than that channel as to what success looks like."

Fiona Cook from Parklands School Motueka was also honoured at the event. Cook, a Year 2/3 teacher has been at Parklands for 12 years. She runs the Reading Together programme where she teaches parents to help their children with their reading.

She also established the Breakfast in Schools programme for the school, which teaches participating students social etiquette as well as ensuring they are well fed.

She rated her most significant achievement as changing the attitudes of children and their whanau.

"Students who claimed to hate reading when they came into my class admitted by the end of the year they enjoyed it. I have taught children a love of books and to enjoy learning."

Cook said she was really passionate about reading and worked hard to inspire her students to feel the same.

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"It gives me a buzz when I get them to love reading."

This was the first award Cook had ever received.

"I was quite shocked. I wasn't expecting it and felt really humbled, it was an amazing feeling, that someone out there approved of what I was doing so much they took the time to fill those forms for it."

- The Nelson Mail

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