As Director of Schools in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, I have the honour of witnessing first-hand the positive impact that hundreds of excellent, passionate and dedicated teachers and staff make – through their passion for learning, area of expertise or sense of community – on students’ lives from Kindergarten to Year 12 in our 56 Catholic schools.
This was reaffirmed when I attended the annual Called to Serve Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral Hamilton this February and had the pleasure, with Bishop Bill, of presenting some of our most outstanding teachers and staff with Monsignor Coolahan Awards. The awards celebrate excellence in teaching, innovation, community, school support and leadership as well as 25 years service to education.
Staff and teachers are nominated by their peers for the awards and, this year, Margaret Rabbitt of Holy Family Primary School, Merewether Beach, received the Excellence in Teaching (Primary) award. Margaret was described by all those who nominated her as being “a gift to Catholic Education, a gift to children and their learning and a gift to the teaching profession”. Marg, like so many of our teachers, is making an impact on the lives of her students every day when she walks through the school gates. Her teaching is underpinned by high expectations and a genuine love of learning whilst she explores different ways for children to access the curriculum, always beingmindful of individual needs. Marg, like all recipients on the night, demonstrated the finest qualities of an educator by having the development of children at the centre of her daily work.
I congratulate all recipients of the Monsignor Coolahan Awards and thank our staff and teachers for their daily commitment to education and the lasting impression, I have no doubt they are making, on the lives of more than 18,000 students.
Monsignor Coolahan Award Recipients
Excellence in Teaching: Margaret Rabbitt, Holy Family Primary, Merewether Beach and Christine Chapple, formerly St Mary’s Maitland, now Education Officer CSO.
Leadership: Mark Mowbray, Principal St Joseph’s Taree.
School Community: Rosary Park Branxton.
First Five Years of Teaching: Alana Clement, St Joseph’s Dungog.
Innovation: Shane Abell, St Mary’s Gateshead.
School Support: Sue Hawke, St Patrick’s Lochinvar; Helen O’Donohue, St Pius X Adamstown; Leah Shakespeare, Holy Spirit Infants Abermain and Sharon Macfarlane-Brooker, St Paul’s Rutherford.
For a full list of 25 years service recipients and photo gallery, please view this gallery/article.