2020 Teacher Awards

2020 National Winner

Anthea Ponte

Hawthorndene Primary School, SA

Anthea Ponte is the STEM Coordinator at Hawthorndene Primary School in South Australia.

Anthea is a passionate science educator who has taught Science and Biology for more than 17 years. Most recently, she has pursued her passion for Primary Science as a STEM Teacher, Senior Leader and STEM Coordinator. Working as a mentor alongside classroom teachers, Anthea builds the confidence and capacity of her colleagues to develop and deliver excellence in STEM education. Her application of exemplary inquiry-based pedagogy cultivates curiosity and analytical and innovative thinking in her students, helping them develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions to become agents of change in a diverse, rapidly evolving society.

Anthea was the winner of the South Australian 2019 STEM Educator of the Year - School Teaching award.

Teacher finalists

Anne Poustie

Carmel School, WA

Anne Poustie is a Science Teacher and Science Talent Search Coordinator at Carmel School in Western Australia.

Anne is an experienced teacher specialising in Biological Sciences and works predominately with high school students. She has been a classroom teacher, pastoral care provider and administrator in the role of Head of House. She returned to teaching five years ago after maternity leave and began teaching at Carmel School. Anne has introduced programs to improve learning through inquiry, such as piloting Thinking Science which features a series of open-ended lessons and introducing the Science Talent Search to motivate students to conduct open-ended investigations.

Diane Garth

Redeemer Baptist School, NSW

Diane Garth is the Mathematics Coordinator at Redeemer Baptist School in New South Wales.

After graduating with a Diploma in Teaching (Secondary Science), Diane taught years 7 to 12 Science and Mathematics at Methodist Ladies' College, Burwood and then Presbyterian Ladies' College, Croydon before completing a Bachelor of Teaching. For the past 35 years, she has been teaching at Redeemer Baptist School. Early in her career, she was required to teach at least one K-6 class. She loved it so much that for more than 30 years she continued to teach at least one Infants or Primary Science and Technology class, in addition to her role as a 7-12 Mathematics Coordinator. She recognises the important foundation that infant teachers build, seeing many of her Year 1 and 2 students develop their STEM interests in their senior school years to then become STEM educators or professionals. She develops programs over many syllabuses, mentors teachers and coordinates the School's Junior CREST Award Program and STEM Professionals in Schools partnership.

Madiyantika Varma

Launceston College, TAS

Madiyantika Varma is the Head of Science at Launceston College in Tasmania and the Marking Coordinator for Biology Tasmania.

Madiyantika is dedicated to improving student outcomes and inspiring students to pursue study in STEM fields. Her teaching career spans 27 years, underpinned by a Bachelor of Science in Life Science and Chemistry, Master of Science in Cytogenetics and Bachelor of Education. She has taught in India and Australia, and in large multicultural cities and rural settings. Challenges faced by a rural high school community inspired her to explore innovative science teaching strategies. Madiyantika says that every student and co-worker inspires her to grow professionally.

In 2012, she received the Australian Academy of Science Teacher Award and in 2019 she received the Tasmanian STEM Secondary Teacher of the Year award for inspiring her students through STEM inquiry.

Matthew Story

Hazel Glen College, VIC

Matthew Story is the Middle School Maths/Science Teacher at Hazel Glen College in Victoria.

Matthew works in the public school system, teaching science to both primary and secondary school students. His first role saw him design and implement a specialist science program for a primary school. The knowledge and experience gained from designing a program from scratch has proven essential in his development as a teacher, and has contributed to his ever-growing skill set. Over the past two years he has been working with middle school students and brings his enthusiasm and love for science to a wider age range of students. He has been working with the Victorian Science Talent Search program for the past two years, and is now on its management committee.

Renee Ford

Ipswich State High School, QLD

Renee Ford is a Physics and Engineering Teacher and STEM Coordinator at Ipswich State High School in Queensland. As a STEM Coordinator, Renee is leading the redesign and innovation of a new STEM elective subject program that is aligned to the Australian Curriculum. She plans, organises and coordinates STEM events, competitions and challenges via key industry and university partnerships. Renee teaches junior STEM elective classes through the implementation of student led, inquiry-based learning projects. She founded the school’s first robotics club to help show students where robotic skills can take them in the future in a way that is fun, engaging and supportive.

Renee was a recipient of the 2017 Northrop Grumman scholarship which included professional development at the educator's Space Camp. She was also a finalist in the 2019 Australian Education Awards for Best STEM Program 2019.

Robin Morrell

Lyneham High School, ACT

Robin Morrell is the Deputy Principal at Lyneham High School in Canberra.

Robin has been a secondary science teacher for 35 years and a school leader for 24 years. She started her career in NSW before travelling overseas for two years. She has taught General Science, Chemistry and Biology in several Canberra government high schools and colleges. Robin has taught students from a mix of abilities, ranging from students with disabilities and/or learning difficulties through to students who are gifted and talented. As a school leader she has been the Executive Teacher of Science and the Deputy of Students and Staff. She continues to teach science and introduces concepts through interesting, real-world engaging lessons that promote a culture of inclusivity and team work.

Sandra Woodward

Wenona School, NSW

Sandra Woodward is the Head of Science at Wenona School in New South Wales.

Sandra has been teaching for more than 20 years. During this time, she has taught Junior Science (years 7-10) and Senior Physics. She drives student engagement by using relatable ideas and concepts through investigations. Examples of this include, the Putt Putt challenge to understand forces and a Hollywood special effects unit to learn about light and sound. Sandra introduced Science Fairs to the school which saw students prepare projects that were judged at an open night with Dr Karl Kruszelnicki (via web conference). Recently she partnered with a CSIRO scientist, as part of the Teacher Researcher in Partnership Program, to develop a teaching program on the applications of vertically grown graphene. Sandra is also a senior marker for HSC Physics and has been the Gifted and Talented Coordinator and Assistant Science Coordinator.

Sophie McConnell

Darwin High School, NT

Sophie McConnell is a Science Teacher at Darwin High School in the Northern Territory.

Sophie completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Honours) from Melbourne University before working as a Research Assistant. She recognised her calling was to encourage others to love science as much as she does, so she completed a Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning at Charles Darwin University. After teaching at Darwin High School for 12 months, she travelled to England to expand her teaching repertoire. This instrumental adventure was a steep learning curve where she gained experience teaching students of all abilities at Pebble Brook School. She returned to Darwin reinvigorated and has taught Senior Science for the past four years. She believes all students can achieve and learn when given the opportunity and environment to thrive.

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