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2023 Early Career Teacher (Primary)
Jared Centenera is an early year’s educator at Saint Ignatius’ College.
Jared’s exceptional commitment to teaching and learning was clearly evidenced to the selection panel. His dedication to his students and the teaching profession is truly inspiring, and his efforts to transform the College’s literacy program are a testament to his passion for continuous improvement.
Jared has been a leader in implementing best practice and has openly invited his peers to his lessons. Jared has made himself available to mentor others to adopt a similar pedagogical approach to teaching. Through these changes in pedagogy, staff are witnessing the students’ love of learning.
Jared’s willingness to reflect on his practice and embrace new learning has enabled him to become a Lead Teacher in literacy. He has demonstrated a deep understanding of the Science of Reading and has implemented best practices to monitor student progress and adapt his teaching accordingly. His investment in his own professional development, including financing his own training at the Institute for Multisensory Language Education (IMSLE), is a testament to his commitment to ensuring no child is left behind.
Not only has Jared made significant improvements in his own classroom, but he has also shared his learning with his peers and has been instrumental in supporting changes to literacy practice across the Junior Primary classrooms. He generously shares resources, provides mentoring opportunities, and models best practice for other teachers. His willingness to film his own explicit direct instruction phonology lessons for staff to watch and learn from in their own time is a true testament to his commitment to helping others grow and develop in their practice.
Jared Centenera is a worthy recipient of the Catholic Education Award South Australia for Early Career Teacher in a pre-school, early learning centre or primary setting.
2023 Early Career Teacher (Secondary)
Nathan O’Brien has been acknowledged for his outstanding contributions as a secondary educator at Caritas College.
As a teacher of maths, science, physics and STEM to students across Years 7-12, Nathan is consistently committed to meeting the needs of his students both academically and emotionally. He designs engaging and accessible learning activities and assessments around student interests and career pathways and provides extra support to ensure his students succeed in all their subjects. It is evident that Nathan’s dedication to his students has resulted in a measurable improvement in student outcomes.
In addition to his teaching excellence, Nathan is a leader in his field. He has developed teaching practices and led colleagues through contemporary approaches, taking additional time to lead workshops for staff. He collaborates and networks with teachers outside of the community, demonstrating his commitment to ongoing growth and development of his own skills. Nathan is an early adopter of change, becoming a colleague others turn to for help or guidance. He has generously shared his gifts to improve opportunities for students at Caritas College, reviewing and updating the STEM curriculum and developing a SACE-accredited digital technologies course for Year 10 students seeking extension.
Nathan also authentically connects with the pastoral care approach to working with students in the community. His calm, supportive, and genuine nature is admired by staff and students alike. He has created a weekly lunchtime maker space, open to all secondary students, which aims to be an inviting and safe space for students to pursue their creative interests. The impact of Nathan’s teaching on his students is evident in their own words. His students speak fondly of the learning experiences Nathan has designed. They admire his passion for what he teaches, as well as his friendly disposition and helpfulness. Nathan has taught his students not only to overcome academic challenges but also to overcome stress and be more comfortable in how they respond to challenges.
Nathan O’Brien is a worthy recipient of the Catholic Education Award South Australia for Early Career Teacher in a secondary or combined school setting.
2023 Experienced Teacher (Primary)
Madeline Cole’s colleagues describe her as an exemplary educator who has unrivalled enthusiasm and a genuine willingness to support students, staff, and the wider community at all times. Her initiative to create and design new learning opportunities to accommodate all learners is a standout professional attribute.
Informed through her trauma training, Madeline was instrumental in the implementation of the Positive Behaviour Management process at the College using the zones of regulation, making a positive difference in the lives of the younger learners.
Throughout the integration of girls into the College, Madeline worked tirelessly to support both students and staff to ensure that everyone within her team and community were well known, valued, and cared for. Madeline’s GEM Mentoring Program for the first cohort of girls at the primary campus, developed in conjunction with a colleague, enabled Year 9 girls to attend the primary campus regularly as ‘Big Sisters’ helping the primary girls to feel a sense of belonging in the St Michael’s community. Staff attest to this being an instrumental initiative for the successful transition of girls into the College.
Madeline ensures students’ needs are met and a solution is found when difficulties are encountered. She has increased the opportunity for physical activity in Reception and Year 1 with the way she has shaped the learning spaces to be accessible and inviting for all. In academic matters, Madeline is across the latest evidence-based research, ensuring that students in her care have teachers that are contemporary and knowledgeable in their approach to learning. Madeline’s most significant positive impact on St Michael’s College is the work she has carried out in her role as the Early Years Primary Coordinator. Within this role she has overseen the Early Years increase from 120 single sex students to 240 co-ed students from Reception – Year 2.
Above all, it is Madeline’s energy, enthusiasm and genuine drive for children and education that makes her presence at St Michael’s College so impactful. Madeline goes to any length to support her team and students in her care no matter what that looks like.
Madeline truly embodies the mission and values imbued within Catholic education and she constantly strives to make a difference in the lives of the students she teaches through challenge, compassion, and care.
Madeline Cole is a worthy recipient of the Catholic Education Award South Australia for Experienced Teacher in pre-school, early learning centre or primary setting.
2023 Experienced Teacher (Secondary)
Ruth Taylor has been employed in Catholic schools for 22 years. She is an innovative Assistant Principal Religious Identity and Mission (APRIM) at Thomas More College, who desires the best for students. She is deeply connected to the core mission of the Catholic ethos.
Through observing a lack of engagement in school from some students in need of a sense of family, Ruth researched and developed a contemporary approach to mission aimed at breaking the cycle of disadvantage aligned to some traditionally marginalised groups of students. Through leading others and with social justice at its heart, Ruth developed a bespoke program for disengaged students in Years 8 – 11 for whom school attendance, engagement, achievement and a sense of belonging had been a challenge.
The program has provided a space in the college where students can feel a sense of belonging and safety, aided by the introduction of regular activities such as breakfast for those who require it, meditation, talk therapy and additional fitness opportunities. This has led to a sizable increase in student attendance and engagement.
Ruth has also re-structured a timetable which has students seeing fewer teachers in one day, allowing for deeper relationships to be forged between teacher and learner. Ruth has ensured that these same students receive targeted learning based on the students’ interest areas. She has ensured that a strong Indigenous perspective is infused across the campus with a focus on students being connected spiritually and developing a deep understanding of themselves.
Ruth has intentionally sought to enhance family connections and to create a genuine partnership with community members, communicating daily with each family of any student who requires support. Ruth constantly strives to provide links to future pathways for students, including the early commencement of SACE to enable students to be on their optimum pathway towards a SACE Certificate.
Ruth’s desire to assist and support, sees students and colleagues alike seeking her out. She embodies the values and charism of the school and is said to be a shining light of expressed faith and Catholic identity.
Ruth Taylor is a worthy recipient of the Catholic Education Award South Australia for Experienced Teacher in a secondary or combined school setting.
For over ten years, Louisa Scopacasa has been unselfishly and unashamedly “child and family focused,” actively volunteering at Our Lady Queen of Peace School to ensure the needs of every child and family are met.
As a woman of faith, Louisa has had a profound effect on the community’s refocus, ensuring that a faith-driven narrative is the centrepiece of all community events. Louisa actively demonstrates how as a community, Our Lady Queen of Peace School can continue to live out the Mercy values of the school’s founders, Sister Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy.
Louisa has been known to regularly share and use her mantra “it’s all for the children”. This approach has driven her to support the school, volunteer her time, and give the very best service to all.
Louisa first joined the Our Lady Queen of Peace School Parents and Friends (P&F) Committee as a volunteer in 2013 when her first child was in Reception and has actively participated in P&F events since. Louisa has increased her participation over the years and contributes substantially to all school events.
Louisa’s focus for each event has been on how to make it more special for the children and families.
Louisa’s contribution has seen her source resources for the events using her broader community connections and spending countless hours of her own time ensuring events are well organised and run smoothly for everyone to enjoy.
Her commitment to the organisation, responsibility and running of the second-hand uniform shop has had a profound effect on the spirit of the community, through ensuring no child goes without a clean and respectable uniform and no family feels shame in the struggle to clothe their child. Her interactions respect the dignity of the child and family.
Over the past ten years, not a week has gone by where Louisa has not been at Our Lady Queen of Peace in the capacity of volunteer. During this time, Louisa has lived her life guided by the Mercy values of compassion, justice, respect, hospitality, service, and courage which she role models in her daily actions as a parent, friend, and volunteer.
Louisa personifies the “Mercy Way,” and, in the words of Sister Catherine McAuley, Louisa is “the shining lamp, giving light to all around us.”
Louisa Scopacasa is a worthy recipient of the Catholic Education Award South Australia for Volunteer Support.
2023 Education Support
James Lodge has been employed at Saint Ignatius’ College for over 20 years. James typifies the College ethos – to be a person for others and is recognised for his generosity of heart.
James is well regarded throughout the whole College for his positive and life-giving connections with staff, students and families, as well as the Bathurst Island and Daly River communities in the Northern Territory.
James’ devotion and commitment to the staff and students at the College far exceeds the expectations of his role and thousands of students have benefited from James’ service to the school community.
James’ primary role is that of Laboratory Manager where he provides exemplary service to the staff and students within the Science Department. In this role he has initiated numerous practices and procedures to ensure the safe and efficient delivery of practical experiences. James has also been instrumental in maintaining the College Aquaculture program, supporting students in the upkeep of aquaria, maintaining fish stocks and sustaining the vegetable garden used by the students and wider school community. He works many hours each week outside his normal work hours and maintains the facility during his holidays.
James’ contributions to the life of the College goes well beyond this work. Most significant is James’ leadership with the College immersion program. Spanning over nine trips, James supports students to take part in a two-week immersion with First Nation peoples on Bathurst Island or Daly River. During this experience, students conduct science lessons in the local schools with equipment organised by James, immerse themselves in the community and learn more about indigenous culture and themselves. One student reflected “Mr Lodge’s curiosity to learn more helped me to also want to know and learn more.” After gaining significant experience on these immersions, the most recent immersion to Daly River in 2022 was coordinated and led in its entirety by James.
He has developed a wonderful rapport with the locals they work with on each of these immersions with James taking on an active role in cooking for the group. James demonstrates a real care for, and willingness to learn from, the First Nations people of Bathurst Island and Daly River and he has developed strong ties with the local community.
Additionally, beyond James’ usual work, he also has extensive involvement in co-curricular offerings including table tennis and volleyball.
James consistently demonstrates care for both students and staff, with a natural gift for inspiring and motivating others and always treats people with the utmost respect. James’ kindness, humility and selflessness is a living witness of the spirit of God at work. He has demonstrated in all he does, a commitment to provide opportunities for students and colleagues to become the best versions of themselves.
James Lodge is a worthy recipient of the Catholic Education Award South Australia for Education Support.
2023 Laudato Si'
Nick Mezzino is an experienced educator who has committed himself to Catholic Education South Australia since 2005. He has taught at his current school, St Thomas School and Preschool, Goodwood since 2015.
Nick’s passion for ecological conversion and education was clearly evidenced to the panel through his commitment to a broad range of initiatives and activities over many years. He carefully inspires students to activate their voice and nurtures respect for, and relationship with, the environment through his mentoring of children through the initiatives he has developed and facilitates.
In 2018, Nick implemented the ‘EcoWarriors’ program at St Thomas School and Preschool.
EcoWarriors undertakes environmental tasks and education activities to achieve real and lasting changes in response to ecological problems. Nick ensures that there is a representation across the school community in this initiative and that it is positioned in and enhances the principles of Laudato Si.
Nick has lead projects that encourage sustainability through lifestyle adaptations that instil hope and activate change. These include reducing waste, recycling, coffee pod recycling and reducing the use of single use plastics in lunchboxes. Large projects that have been implemented include designing and planting a butterfly garden, building bird boxes with a visit from local conservationists, the introduction of chickens and the installation of a worm farm. Environmental specialists have been brought into the school to provide education and parents are invited to assist in the gardening processes.
In addition to the EcoWarriors, Nick has developed a Nourish and Flourish day. This day focuses on whole school activities to feed the mind and soul to ensure the children nourish and flourish in their learning. Healthy lunches are prepared and served by the senior students to ensure children have agency. This is grounded in the school learning dispositions and have a focus on being connected, brave, gritty and respectful. The day has become a key date of the learning calendar. Nick also uses these principles to support school families financially through promoting the re-use of second-hand uniforms and demonstrates a deep understanding of the principles of Integral Ecology through this initiative.
The principles of Laudato Si are exemplified by Nick through his program – with the focus on education, sustainability and passion. His commitment shifts the hearts and minds of students and the broader school community to promote sustainable lifestyles. His leadership, passion and faith drive a commitment to ecological principles, develops opportunities to activate change and has driven purposeful change in the school community.
Nick Mezzino is a worthy recipient of the Catholic Education Award South Australia for Laudato Si’.
2023 Innovative Program
Kildare College’s Graduate Program is a research based, innovative and high-impact approach that supports early career teachers’ transition to become competent, capable and dynamic professionals.
The program’s foundation is built upon the College’s core values and extensive research, and is aligned with the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) framework. It enables graduates to develop their pedagogical knowledge and skills consistently and sequentially.
The locally developed program highlights eight central themes that were drawn from research. These are:
These are aligned with AITSL’s four focus areas that are critical to effective induction, including Professional Practice, Professional Identity, Orientation, and Wellbeing.
The program engages graduates in an appreciative approach that promotes ongoing development. Through the program’s focus on self-reflection and professional conversations, the early career teachers are empowered to take ownership of their learning and personal growth, resulting in enhanced instructional strategies, classroom management skills, and student-teacher relationships.
The program prioritises a focus on reflective practice, peer observation, and mentorship, ensuring graduates receive regular feedback on their impact on student outcomes and are empowered to affect change. It has been highly effective in developing the graduates’ confidence and competence as teachers.
The program’s potential to be adopted in other Catholic education schools has been acknowledged by other CESA leaders, further underscoring its impact and innovation in education.
The most significant positive impact of the program has been the dynamic and progressive development of early career teachers, which has enabled them to gain independence and confidence in their pedagogy. The strength and success of the program is acknowledged by the graduate teachers, school staff, leadership team members and Kildare Education Ministries staff.
The Graduate Program – Kildare College is a worthy recipient of the Catholic Education Award South Australia for Innovative Program.
2023 Leadership/Lifelong Contribution
Susan Young recently retired from the position of Assistant Director: People, Leadership and Culture at Catholic Education South Australia (CESA) after 35 years of exemplary leadership and witness to the mission of Catholic education. Susan’s long and sustained contribution demonstrates her support of the vision, mission, values and purpose of Catholic Education South Australia.
Throughout her career as a teacher, music consultant, deputy principal, principal, principal consultant and assistant director, Susan has been an influential and inspirational trailblazer for female leaders.
Her passion, love of music, leadership strengths and ability to coach, challenge and support colleagues were always underpinned by Susan’s drive to provide the best Catholic education for children and young people.
Susan’s system leadership, contributions and achievements were always underpinned by clear vision and a drive for change. Among many contexts, her influence was evident in:
Referees described Susan as a shining light in all regards and a deserving recipient of this award.
Throughout her career, Susan has made her mark in many areas of policy, process, system initiatives and culture, but she will be remembered for her strength of character and love of people, with an ability to listen, coach and mentor.
Susan Young is a worthy recipient of the Catholic Education Award South Australia for Leadership / Lifelong Contribution.