School of Education Awards Ceremony goes virtual

24 July 2020

The University of Notre Dame’s School of Education, Sydney has hosted this year’s Awards Ceremony online, acknowledging the School’s most outstanding students and newest Higher Degree by Research graduates.

“We especially wanted to commend our 2020 award winners this year given the challenges associated with COVID-19,” says Rachelle Glynn, Assistant Dean in the School of Education. “Many of our award recipients have been involved in the sudden change to teaching online while out on practical placements, at the same time as learning online themselves at university – they have taken these challenges in their stride.”

The theme of this year's ceremony was 'Resilience' and the 2020 award winners from the School of Education have demonstrated this characteristic in bucketloads over the past few months. As part of her address to the ceremony, Dean of the School of Education, Professor Lauren Stephenson, spoke about the research around habits that build resilience, such as understanding emotions, building community, taking care of yourself and celebrating accomplishments. “If we develop habits that nurture relationships with our colleagues, parents and other students, we strengthen our resilience, so I was pleased to see so many staff members, students and friends of the School get involved in this online celebration of achievement,” says Professor Stephenson, who was also delighted to hear positive feedback from the cohort following the engaging event.

“Conducting the awards ceremony online was a small gesture to acknowledge the enthusiasm and passion that all of our award recipients have displayed throughout their time in the School of Education. I congratulate them all,” added Rachelle.

The ceremony rewarded students with prize money donated by the Australian Catholic Superannuation and Retirement Fund and School of Education. Winner of the KU Award for outstanding academic achievement in the Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood specialisation), Talitha Street, took home prize money, plus two tickets to the KU Annual Conference and the opportunity to be mentored by KU during professional placement at a KU Centre.

Among the evening’s 15 award recipients was Alexandra Ratcliffe, who graduated in absentia with a Bachelor of Education earlier this year and received two awards during the ceremony, including the Dean’s Honour Award: Emerging Leader in Education for demonstrating leadership qualities that motivate and inspire others. Alexandra also won the Christus Magister Award for her academic excellence and commitment to the University as a Catholic institution, as well as her reflective practice within professional experiences and the care she has shown to students in schools and to fellow pre-service teachers.

“I felt honoured and excited to have been recognised with two awards at the School of Education’s awards night,” says Alexandra, who now works as a casual teacher at a primary school in Sydney.

During the COVID-19 lockdown period in NSW, Alexandra taught students from Kindergarten to Year 6 who could not be home-schooled. “It was extremely rewarding being able to create a safe and fun space for the students during that daunting and unprecedented time, and to be able to have discussions about current world issues and how they were feeling each day and coping with the changes in their lives. I feel very privileged to have been the familiar face for these students who still needed to come to school each day, but without their friends and out of their routine,” says Alexandra.

“I think it was great that the annual awards presentation went ahead online. It made it possible for my immediate family to join in from home. It also gave me a chance to mark the completion of my educational journey at Notre Dame. Not being able to attend our graduation ceremony in person has made it feel like our cohort didn't really finish that university chapter of our lives, so it was really nice to have something like this, which recognised our hard work over the past years.”

Photo: Alexandra Ratcliffe watching the School of Education Awards Ceremony with her puppy Ziggy.

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