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FCAC teacher takes out national teaching awards


A Fraser Coast Anglican College primary teacher has been recognised with two prestigious NEiTA Foundation accolades at the National Excellence in Teaching Awards

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The NEiTA Foundation, through the National Excellence in Teaching Awards, has been acknowledging exceptional teachers across Australia and New Zealand for over 25 years.

Mrs Merilyn Westrop, a Primary School teacher at Fraser Coast Anglican College, was one of 450 nominees who were then shortlisted to 43, and is one of 12 teachers around Australia who recently won the NEiTA Award for Innovation in Online Teaching for 2020.

In addition to this award, Mrs Westrop was also awarded the Futurity Parents’ Award.

Principal Joe Wright said that the College was thrilled that Mrs Westrop was recognised for her giftedness, enthusiasm and dedication.

“Of course, the College as a whole is incredibly proud of Merilyn,” Mr Wright said.

“Those who know and work with Merilyn recognise she is an exceptional professional – talented, committed, caring, innovative, passionate and dedicated to her students, our College and the community.”

Across the world, schooling changed owing to the effects of COVID-19 and was fundamentally impacted by lockdowns and the necessity to adopt online learning techniques for all school ages.

Mr Wright said that 2020 has proven to be a year like no other.

“The teaching profession across Australia, including our FCAC educators, as a group rose to the challenge magnificently,” he said.

“For Merilyn to be recognised for her leadership and extra efforts during this time is very well deserved.”

When assessing the finalists, the panel of judges was looking for examples of outstanding leadership, expert knowledge, exemplary and innovative teaching practice, and professional engagement with colleagues, parents, carers and the community, especially by providing exemplary support for student wellbeing during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Mr Wright said that Mrs Westrop transcended the challenges of the COVID-19 period.

“Merilyn has always been an amazing educator; however, during the online learning period she went above and beyond, motivating her students by interacting frequently with them in creative and varied ways, which enhanced her students’ learnings and their interactions with each other, all during a difficult and unusual time and having to stay at home,” he said.

Mrs Westrop remains very humble and said that it’s hard to accept an award for doing a job that she is so passionate about.

“As teachers, we pour our hearts and souls into creating the most valuable and stimulating activities and opportunities for our students. Then, we are faced with even more challenges like online learning,” Mrs Westrop said.

“To be honest, I absolutely loved the chance to be creative and thrived in developing innovative ways to engage my students and make them want to come online and see what crazy things my teaching partner and I would be doing that day.

“However, I couldn’t wait for my students to be back in the classroom with me once again.

Mrs Westrop shared a quote by Robert John Meehan that resonates with her: “Teachers who love teaching, teach children to love learning.”

It is not just a job, but a life’s work for this dedicated educator.

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