Yet throughout all of the ups and downs and unexpected moments, so many amazing educators have continued to shine. They’ve selflessly given their time and remained committed to creating a future for the next generation.

That’s why we’re delighted to announce that nominations and applications are now open for the 2021 Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards, in partnership with Schools Plus.

Our goal is to recognise and reward educators who transform young students’ lives, even in the most challenging circumstances.

Last year we recognised the work of Jacklyn Roberts, who was Principal of Wagaman Primary School in the Northern Territory. Almost four years ago, her life changed when she visited Alert Bay, a small village northeast of Vancouver on a study tour examining school leadership and improvement.

Then principal of Inglewood State School southwest of Brisbane, she was impressed by its use of the ‘Spirals of Inquiry’ approach, which has contributed to British Columbia’s rapid rise in world education rankings.

This approach has also been particularly successful in drawing on grass roots networks to improve Indigenous education world-wide, an area of special interest for Jacklyn.

After being recruited by the Northern Territory Department of Education, who were impressed with her tenacious commitment to improving schools, Jacklyn saw the opportunity to introduce the Spirals approach. As principal of Darwin’s Wagaman Primary School, she felt the need to develop community partnerships and encourage voices that weren’t heard.

Focused on increased rigour in learning and developing student voice by introducing the ‘Spirals of Inquiry’ model she had discovered in Vancouver, Jacklyn helped improve attendance and family participation at the school, where academic results have now vaulted into the territory’s top 20 per cent and the school has gained an ‘Achieve’ school status.

Working with three other schools, Jacklyn also created and led the Network of Inquiry and Innovation NT, breaking down silos in favour of collaborative professionalism.

Her most important achievements, she says, have been forging professional relationships and seeing students leaving her schools with a passion for learning, confidence and stronger curiosity than when they arrived.

It’s these kinds of inspirational stories of commitment and passion for education that we’re looking to turn the spotlight on once again this year.

Another of our amazing 2020 Fellowship recipients was Dr Scott Sleap, Deputy Principal at Cessnock High School in New South Wales. Raised in the Hunter Valley’s rural heartland, Scott is hailed as a visionary educator who has opened new possibilities in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education to students across regional NSW.

In a region where traditional mining jobs are dwindling and new skills are needed, Scott established The Cessnock Academy of STEM Excellence (CASE) which has transformed students’ lives and expectations.

In the Academy’s first year, there was an incredible 50 per cent drop in suspensions, rises in attendance and a swag of student awards. Today, students are lapping up the new subjects on offer – from drones to coding – as new career opportunities open to them thanks to collaborations Scott has negotiated with industrial giants, including Google, BAE Systems and Boeing.

In 2019, his Academy model was delivered in 65 schools in five regional centres across NSW and his industry partnership program is now a blueprint for hundreds of schools across the state. The region’s annual STEM education conference, which Scott also initiated, has become one of the state’s premier professional learning events, growing from 90 delegates to close to 1000 over five years.

As a current Project Leader with the NSW Department of Education, Scott is focussed on drawing under-represented communities into STEM programs and is proud of the success with female, Aboriginal and less advantaged students.

Jacklyn and Scott’s stories are just two of an incredible field of 12 who we were proud to see recognised in 2020. But we know there are still so many educators out there who deserve to have their efforts rewarded.

That’s why we’re now looking to recognise 12 more outstanding teachers and school leaders who’ve delivered transformative and measurable outcomes for their students; Educators who have seen new opportunities to engage and affect their students even when some of life’s greatest challenges made moments of inspiration seem almost impossible.

The chosen 12 will each receive a $45,000 Teaching Fellowship, which includes $10,000 to support their professional development, $25,000 for a school project to improve outcomes for their students and a group visit to a high-performing education system. The Teaching Fellowship will also include unique opportunities to engage with leading education experts and to develop networks, skills and capability through a series of master classes and experiences that form part of the 2021 Teaching Fellowship year.

If you know an outstanding educator, nominate them today. If you are an inspirational teacher or school leader, visit the website and apply for your opportunity to be recognised as part of the 2021 Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards.

The chance to recognise and reward outstanding educators closes on the 16th of October 2020, so don’t wait.

Visit today.