21 August 2018
A cooking and gardening program helping to transform opportunities for Hervey Bay Special School students has earned senior teacher Kathleen Heath the title of USC Fraser Coast Educator of the Year.
The award was one of five prizes awarded to the region’s outstanding teachers at the Fraser Coast Education Alliance ceremony in Hervey Bay tonight (Tuesday 21 August).
Ms Heath was recognised with the top prize, valued at $1,000, for raising funds and developing a comprehensive learning program to teach students gardening, cooking, business and customer service skills.
Ms Heath’s curriculum has been showcased in other Queensland schools to assist teachers deliver a similar program.
USC Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Joanne Scott said Ms Heath’s innovative approach to teaching had led to the school opening a commercial-style café onsite where students completed work experience and could obtain vocational certificates in hospitality.
“They have learned how to build garden beds, cultivate vegetables and herbs, prepare meals using food from the gardens, generate income by selling food in the school tuckshop, and serve coffee and snacks,” she said.
“This uplifting program is teaching important life skills, enhancing morale and helping to improve job opportunities for these students who can find it difficult to secure paid employment.”
The Fraser Coast Education Alliance awards are open to teachers and lecturers at regional schools, TAFEs, universities and registered training organisations to encourage educators to develop innovative, engaging learning opportunities.
Maryborough Special School teachers Sereta Uitenweerde and Jane Webb received the Educational Futures and Technology award for implementing ground-breaking eye tracking software in the school to enable students with profound physical disabilities to communicate.
Judges said the teachers had worked hard to find a solution to unlock their students’ potential and had opened a world of knowledge and communication previously unavailable to them.
Other award winners were:
• Innovation in Education – Rose Wright (Maryborough Special School)
• Community Partnerships – Stephanie Whitehead (Urangan State High School)
• Educational Support – Leanne Olive (Urangan State High School)
USC presented the awards in partnership with the Fraser Coast Education Alliance, which is made up of public and private education providers. Sponsors included the Fraser Coast Regional Council, Queensland Teachers’ Union and the United Voice Union.
— Clare McKay