While only in the beginning stages of her teaching career, Rebeka Henshaw is making great strides within her school community at St Aloysius Chisholm. In recognition of her efforts, Mrs Henshaw received the Emmaus Award for First Five Years of Teaching during the 2020 Called to Serve Mass.
"I am extremely grateful to receive recognition for my efforts at St Aloysius," Mrs Henshaw said. "To have only been a part of this large community for 14 months and already feel as if I am truly at home is a great feeling.
"Every day, I am surrounded by knowledgeable and creative colleagues who inspire me to reach higher and think outside the box. They embrace change, they challenge the norm and they have fun while doing it. I think they all deserve an award too. I love what I do and who I do it with. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now."
St Aloysius principal, Grant Diggins, praised Mrs Henshaw saying she has "displayed an excellent understanding of the curriculum, and as part of her grade team has been instrumental in planning engaging, interesting and meaningful learning activities for her students".
"Mrs Henshaw is a highly respected member of staff, who has developed positive partnerships with students, parents, staff and members of the wider community," Mr Diggins said.
For Mrs Henshaw, the most rewarding aspects of her role at St Aloysius fall into three categories. She commends her colleagues, commenting that they are all dedicated, flexible and collaborative, which results in providing the students with holistic educational experiences.
The school community is also incredibly important to her.
"Our families go above and beyond to create, organise and run multiple events every year for St Aloysius students and staff," she said. "Our students are full of wonder and excitement for learning. They know how to achieve learning success, both individually and collaboratively."
The third comes down to the unique teaching and learning environments at St Aloysius. "We are blessed with beautiful classrooms full of natural light and contemporary furniture arrangements," she said. "We have multiple outdoor learning spaces that flow from the indoors to the outdoors."
In the citation for her award, Mr Diggins said Mrs Henshaw's qualities and efforts so far are both a credit to her professionalism and resilience, and a testament to her enthusiasm and dedication to her vocation.
Background to the Emmaus awards
The Catholic Schools Office established the Emmaus Awards to recognise, affirm and celebrate the significant contribution made by the recipients to aspects of excellence in Catholic schooling in the Diocese of Maitland—Newcastle. Each year, eight Emmaus plaques are presented by the Bishop and Director of Catholic Schools at the Called to Serve Mass. Over 2,000 staff are eligible to receive an award, which makes receiving one very significant. Recipients must be nominated by their colleague, and a panel then reviews all submissions. In total there are six award categories, including four categories that pertain to educators, as well as a category recognises contributions made by schools’ support staff including cleaners, pastoral care workers and grounds people and finally, one for an entire school community. In addition to receiving a plaque, individuals also receive a $2000 certificate and the winning school community receives $1000 to be used towards educational resources.