Vote for Australia's Unsung Hero - Leader

After receiving hundreds of entries in our Unsung Heroes competition, it was incredibly hard to whittle the list of worthy recipients down to just five. Now it's your turn to decide. Which one of the five shortlisted school leaders below do you believe to be Australia's most deserving Unsung Hero? (Please note: Voting closes at 17:00 AEST on December 9, 2019.)



Here are this year’s final nominees:

Alan Hope

Kurri Kurri High School, NSW

Nominated by Heather Sutherland

Alan is one of three Deputy Principals at Kurri Kurri High School. Every day, his door is open to staff and students alike. His fairness, patience and dedication to our school are second to none. Having worked with Alan since 2012, I have seen him as a mentor, a team leader, a passionate teacher, and often the glue that pulls things all together. Each and everyday, through the good and the bad Alan stays calm, never looks for praise or the limelight, and goes above and beyond to support staff and students. 

Despite his own often crazy schedule, you will see a student in his office just wanting to share a story and Alan will be listening and chatting, making time for that student to be heard. 

Somehow, amongst the pressures of being a DP and all that comes with the leadership that role brings, Alan always stays on top of it all, without a gripe or a whinge and that's why he's my unsung hero. He deserves a little thanks back.


Damien Webb

St Michael’s Primary School, ACT

Nominated by Patrick Ellis

Damien is inspiring in all that he does at school. He is particularly inspirational with his leadership of a Culture of Sustainability. Damien has led the implementation and promotion of Miss Jordan’s Garden (Greenhouse). He gives up countless hours of his own time to ensure the space is thriving and engaging for students. He has developed a strong student leadership team to promote sustainability across the school and to spread into home lives. Damien has formed a parent action group as succession planning to ensure continued success. Damien has integrated art, science, technology, health, sustainability and literacy into sustainability lessons to engage all students. Damien has a strong passion for ensuring this culture of sustainability is spreading throughout the school.  


Margaret Russell

Cairns School of Distance Education, QLD

Nominated by Linda Tuxford-Adams

She is Head of Department for inclusion support at Cairns School of Distance Education. It's a challenging job in a normal school, but Marg creates a sense of support and community for students with special needs and their parents. She manages to liaise with students, parents and teachers to help create supports that enable students with special needs to participate in classes, school camps and events. She also coordinates teacher aides to ensure students receive academic, social and emotional support needed. She works with teachers so they are more able to support the students and implement ILP's. Our personal experience with Marg has been a highly supportive and responsive one. Our son is completing Year 6 and is able to participate fully in class and events (with supports). My son is autistic and this was something we as parents had trouble envisioning when we first began our journey with CSDE. Thank you Marg.


Jemma McClafferty

Balaclava State School, Queensland

Nominated by Michael McClafferty 

Jemma is the head of behaviour at a hugely multicultural and indigenous school in Cairns, FNQ. She has developed strategies, action plans and relationships among all communities that has led to successful attendance and academic outcomes. She routinely seeks out ways to engage her student and staff cohort with events that integrate learning with community. Currently, she has used her initiative to create a netball team for young girls from impoverished, low socioeconomic backgrounds in and around her catchment. She has gathered local business support to help fund new shoes, travel, clothing and equipment for these girls to participate in netball; which they otherwise would never have been able to. She is a mentor, a magistrate and a moderator of all things, all the time. She is an inspiration to all and does so without asking for any recognition. This is just one single reason why I am nominating Jemma McClafferty.


Nick Weiler

The Knox School, VIC

Nominated by Naomi Weiler

Nick Weiler has given over 30 years of service to the education community, particularly in VET. Throughout his time as an educator he has written/devised and assessed the VET Hospitality program. He has been leading in his vision of Trade Training Centres and their relationships within schools, and how these organisations not only provide education in VET courses but forge connections between students, schools and workplaces. Nick spent the beginning of his teaching career at St Johns where he established a self-funding Hospitality Program - one of the first VET programs within the state. In addition, Nick also designed and established the largest RTO Center in the southern-hemisphere at CRC Sydenham. This program incorporated cutting edge technology, trade experience and relationships with the community. Nick also worked within some of the largest multicultural areas, working with refugees and new immigrants - which is where his teaching skills really allowed these individuals to succeed. As a consequence of Nick's teaching, numerous students have achieved perfect scores in Hospitality and have gone on to achieve high honours in a range of fields.

Prize details:


At Corwin, we have one objective: To help educators make the greatest impact on teaching and learning. We offer a host of professional learning services to support school based, system wide, regional and state wide improvement priorities. These services come in a variety of modalities - they are research informed, innovative and are tangible approaches to professional learning solutions with a relentless focus on improving student learning. 

A $500 Booktopia gift voucher prize for the winner, thanks to Corwin.

Training 24/7

Training 24/7 provides high quality professional development to teachers, at an extremely low cost. We offer over 60 hours of online training focused on literacy, that can be taken at any time, anywhere.

1 x Training 24/7 All Access Pass (Over 60 hours of online teacher training valued, at $385)

  • 4 of our favourite books for teachers:
  • "Language at the Speed of Sight” by Mark Seidenberg (valued at $26.99)
  • "The Reading Mind” by Daniel Willingham (valued at $41.95)
  • "The Truth about Teaching” by Greg Ashman (valued at $48.99)
  • "Rosenshine’s Principles in Action” by Tom Sherrington (valued at $19.99)

People Bench

A 12 months subscription to the PeopleBench Platform. PeopleBench is an online school workforce benchmarking and analytics platform that allows you to compare your school to a national dataset, helping you make better informed workforce decisions to help achieve better student outcomes. Subscribers have access to our online tool, our premium research papers and a membership to our Community of Practice with discounts and early access to Professional Development Days and other events that can help bring insight into managing your school workforce and improving performance. 12 month subscriptions are normally $1,999 + GST per year. Find out more on the PeopleBench website.

Total prize package: $3,022