Teacher sets bench­mark

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By TERESA HAT­TAN

Les­ley John­ston’s face lights up when she talks about ed­u­ca­tion and the pas­sion she has for her job.

The Firth School new en­trant teacher has been awarded an al­lowance in recog­ni­tion of her teach­ing skills. She will get an al­lowance of $5000 ev­ery year for as long as she con­tin­ues to meet the el­i­gi­bil­ity and Ad­vanced Class­room Ex­per­tise Teacher pro­fes­sional cri­te­ria.

While she doesn’t want to ‘‘ blow her own trum­pet’’, John­ston felt the al­lowance was recog­ni­tion for the hard work she puts into the ca­reer she loves so much.

‘‘ There are thou­sands of teach­ers who work in­cred­i­bly hard and do mag­nif­i­cent things and un­less you go into lead­er­ship, you don’t get fi­nan­cially recog­nised. The min­istry is now want­ing to recog­nise those teach­ers but also keep those teach­ers in the class­room.’’

John­ston shyly ad­mits she has al­ways gone above and beyond for her stu­dents.

‘‘For me, it’s all about try­ing to make ed­u­ca­tion re­ally ex­cit­ing for chil­dren so they are hooked in, en­gaged, en­er­gised and able to see the rel­e­vance of what they’re do­ing. I’ve al­ways tried to find cre­ative ways of do­ing that.’’

When she heard about the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion’s lat­est ini­tia­tive, she thought she would look into what was re­quired.

How­ever, once she re­alised what was re­quired she thought about it for a long time. It would in­volve a lot of hard work. She said once she de­cided to give it a go, it was a ‘‘huge un­der­tak­ing’’.

But lit­tle did she know the New Zealand Ed­u­ca­tional In­sti­tute would class her com­pleted port­fo­lio as ‘‘par­tic­u­larly ex­em­plary’’.

Feed­back said her sub­mis­sion was ‘‘a won­der­fully cre­ative demon­stra­tion of ex­em­plary prac­tice and stu­dent en­gage­ment’’.

Her work is now be­ing kept as a bench­mark.

Firth School act­ing prin­ci­pal, Jeanette Mal­li­gan, said ev­ery­one knew John­ston was ‘‘one out of the box’’. She said the school com­mu­nity was re­ally proud of their teacher’s achieve­ments.

‘‘I think they knew Les­ley was spe­cial any­way.’’

John­ston, who has been teach­ing for 12 years after re­train­ing, was one of a to­tal of 19 teach­ers recog­nised with ACET al­lowances through­out the Waikato re­gion.

She found the process of as­sess­ing her own work while pre­par­ing her sub­mis­sion very ben­e­fi­cial.

‘‘As a teacher you’re al­ways en­quir­ing into your own teach­ing and try­ing to do things bet­ter or look­ing at what you did well and what you can carry for­ward into the next les­son or whether you change things.’’

She hon­estly thought she didn’t have a hope in gain­ing the al­lowance.

‘‘I didn’t re­ally think I had done my work to the cri­te­ria so I was blown away to find not only that I’d passed but they thought it was a re­ally good one.’’

She said the process has been reaf­firm­ing of a job well done.

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