Shining a Light on Leaders in Education

Director's News | Shining a Light on Leaders in Education

Posted 26 November 2019 by Catholic Education in Director's News

For the past two years, Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong’s annual Lighting the Way Faith and Learning Recognition Awards have celebrated excellence, passion, dedication and commitment. This year’s event – which took place at the Campbelltown Catholic Club – was no exception.

As guests arrived at the venue, it was filled with conversation and laughter - amongst a group of the most outstanding leaders working in the Diocese of Wollongong.

The winners of this year’s Lighting the Way Faith and Learning Recognition Awards were revealed at a formal dinner on Friday 22 November 2019, acknowledging unique achievements and significant career milestones.

Proudly supported by the Catholic Development Fund (CDF), over 200 guests gathered to see awards presented to individuals symbolic of CEDoW's commitment to authentic and continuous improvement in growth, life and energy for the staff and students in our schools.

“These awards are about a dedication of service, a love of work, a commitment made to young people and for some staff, a commitment made for over 40 years,” said CEDoW Director of Schools, Peter Turner who called the nominees and award recipients a ‘gathering of champions’ for their collective faith, integrity and resilience.

“It is a special evening because it’s a good news story. Tonight is about people – teachers, support staff and principals – who show the way for young people.”

Attending the celebration were distinguished guests that included the Bishop of Wollongong, Most Rev Brian Mascord; Interim Chair of the Diocesan Schools Council, Trevor Kellam; Director of Catholic Mission, David Harrison; Chief Operations Manager-Office of the Bishop, Greg Parrish; Board Member of Campbelltown Catholic Club, David Olsson; Director of Caritas Wollongong, Monica Ward-McCann and General Manager of the CDF, Tony Sanderson.

In his speech, Mr Turner acknowledged the efforts of standout individuals; Bill Moorhouse, a 64 year old volunteer firefighter, Michael Taylor who volunteers weekly with children at the Villawood Detention Centre, and all the ‘no-quitters’ working in our Catholic Education system constantly overcoming challenges with grace and determination.


These awards and the citations which complement them reflect the achievements and service of those who have been nominated by their peers for professional recognition. Click on each award to see recipients.


This is an award for a teacher of 1-5 years graduate experience who has demonstrated an excellent standard of classroom practice that has resulted in evidenced growth in faith and learning for students over the previous 12 month period. This award consists of a $2,000 scholarship to fund a suitable professional development opportunity and a framed certificate.

Outstanding Early Career Teacher Award-Primary:
Bridgette Duffell, St Michael’s Nowra

Outstanding Early Career Teacher Award-Secondary:
Savannah Lloyd, St John the Evangelist Nowra


A new category in 2019, this award is for a support staff member who has demonstrated: active promotion of the aims of Catholic education; and/or consistent performance significantly above what is expected; and/or independent initiative, resourcefulness; and/or demonstrated ability to adapt to innovation/change in the educational and/or administrative function of the school/office. This award consists of a $2,000 scholarship to fund a suitable professional development opportunity and a framed certificate.

Outstanding Support Staff Award-Catholic Education Office:
Debbie Manche, Catholic Education Office

Outstanding Support Staff Award-Primary:
Jodie Iliani, St Paul’s Moss Vale

Outstanding Support Staff Award-Secondary:
Kylie Chapman, St John the Evangelist Nowra


These awards are to recognise exceptional performance across one of the following professional practices: Leading Catholic Life, Education and Mission; Leading Teaching and Learning; Developing Self and Others; Leading Improvement, Innovation and Change; Engaging and Working with the Community. This award consists of a $2,000 scholarship to fund a suitable professional development opportunity and a framed certificate.

Leading Catholic Life, Education and Mission Award: 
Cathy Brown, Catholic Education Office

Leading Teaching and Learning Award: 
James Bryce, St Michael’s Thirroul

Developing Self and Others Award: 
Michael Shanahan, St Joseph’s Albion Park

Leading Improvement, Innovation and Change Award: 
Amanda Wilson, St Joseph’s Albion Park

Engaging and Working with the Community Award: 
Mark Mongta, Catholic Education Office


After much anticipation, the Director’s Distinguished Achievement in Catholic Education Award was presented to two staff members who have made an outstanding contribution to the overarching mission of Catholic Education in the Diocese.

The first awardee, Margaret Chittick, CEDoW Senior Professional Officer and Team Leader of Safety, Wellbeing and Professional Services, has dedicated her working life to the care and protection of children and young people. Highly-respected, both in government and non-government sectors, Margaret’s vision and tenacity has influenced legislative changes and church responses.

Her mission is to make schools in our Diocese the safest of places to educate a child or young person.

“I can’t think of any other role, with such backing, that can achieve as much change as I’ve had the fortune to be able to do,” Margaret said. “I have not done this alone. I have extraordinary admiration for the daily work that goes on in our schools with the children at heart.”

Also rewarded for her dedication and faith, CEDoW Library and Inclusive Technologies Specialist, Jeanette Davies began her career in Catholic Education as a fresh-faced library assistant working at St Joseph’s Albion Park. With an early enthusiasm for technology, she was instrumental in the introduction of computers into the library system – and beyond. 

As digital resources advanced, Jeanette spearheaded the use of ‘inclusive technologies’ that could empower young people with diverse learning needs. A published author and international conference speaker, Jeanette is an innovative force in the areas of accessibility.

"Education is interesting in that you go to work to do the job that you’re paid to do but there’s always an opportunity to do more,” said Jeanette, who recognised the people who inspire her work including her mentors, managers and one memorable student. 

“His muscles were deteriorating and it was going to be progressive,” she recalled. “His mother said to me… how grateful she was that he was born in an age where technology has enabled her son to attend school just like everybody else. I thought it was very profound and this really is at the heart of everything I do.”

Article Image 2019 Lighting the Way


The inspiring event was also an opportunity to celebrate staff who have dedicated a significant amount of time in service of Catholic education, with the Length of Service Recognition Awards for those with 25 years of service and over.

Awardee, St Francis of Assisi Warrawong Religious Education Coordinator, Mandy Madaschi, was recognised for 40 years of service.

“The important thing about the school I work at is the trust that the parents have, in us, to educate their children,” Mrs Madaschi said. “It’s been a privilege to see the children go through, be educated and be successful. It’s really been a great honour to watch them grow.”

The Awards and Recognition Program was developed to provide a recognition structure for system-wide acknowledgement of staff in schools and personnel of the Catholic Education Office.

Principal of St Thomas More Ruse, Philip Barrington, said it is a great honour to be recognised for 30 years of service. “For me personally, the thirty years have flown - it’s just been a part of my life. The fact that our system takes the time out to acknowledge the years I’ve put into Catholic Education, it’s a real honour and privilege.”

Reflecting on what makes our schools different, Mr Barrington shared, “It’s the fact that we can base our decisions, our actions, our policies and processes, all within the context of our faith. We are so fortunate to be able to do this, it gives us a reason to act the way that we do.”

In his address to the gathering, Bishop Brian commended the passion of every person involved in the evening, “Tonight is a wonderful opportunity to recognise the beauty and the giftedness of education in the Diocese of Wollongong. We’ve heard about the talents that have been used by the very people who have been nominated, who have received awards. The very fact that the nominations have been made speaks of the talents that have gifted our Diocese.”

“For that I am so very grateful because that is the gift that you offer in revealing the presence and the face of God. You now will be the shoulders of those that come after us, and they will stand on your shoulders because of the wonderful way in which you have revealed Jesus in the way you do the things you do.”

The complete Lighting the Way Faith and Learning Recognition Awards event is available to view here.

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