Last night I attended the Brother John Taylor Memorial Prize, which recognises outstanding achievement in the NSW HSC by students who have some disability or have overcome major challenges in life. The Award is sponsored by the NSW Board of Studies.
It was a moving experience listening to the stories of the three recipients. It is hard to comprehend how they coped with disability and severe trauma. Their stories are ones of personal courage, relentless commitment to demonstrate their talents and a refusal to take the easy option at any stage. Each has settled into tertiary study and one I am happy to say is in their first year of a teaching degree.
These students acknowledged the support and love of family, friends and the schools which they attended. What struck me the most was that they each made special mention of, and expressed deep appreciation for their teachers. They each believed that teachers made the difference and admitted they couldn’t have done what they did without their good teachers who challenged them, stretched them, supported them and were always there when they needed them.
I have written much about improving student achievement and providing a relevant and engaging learning experience for every student. Events like this reinforce the centrality of good teachers in the learning process. There are no barriers to learning when there are good teachers working in classrooms; we’re lucky to have them because they do make a difference!