As guests filed into the Grand Ballroom of the Novotel in Wollongong, the passion and dedication of the attendees was clearly evident - a group of the most outstanding and innovative staff working in the Diocese.
The winners of this year’s Lighting the Way Faith and Learning Recognition Awards were revealed at a formal dinner on Friday 16 November, acknowledging achievement and significant career milestones of dedicated individuals.
Proudly sponsored by the Catholic Development Fund, over 220 guests gathered to see awards presented to some of the organisation’s most outstanding leaders from across Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong.
Director of Schools, Peter Turner, said the awards are symbolic of CEDoW's commitment to authentic and continuous improvement in growth, life and energy for the staff and students in our schools.
“Tonight, at the very heart of its purpose, is a gathering of special women and men," he said, "Women and men of character, of substance, of determination, of faith, of integrity and resilience. In the truest form of the word - a gathering of champions.”
Peter used the words of Pope Francis to describe "those wonderful people capable of giving meaning to the school and its culture. Capable of building an educational relationship with each young person so that each one can feel accepted and loved."
Attending the celebration were distinguished guests that included the Bishop of Wollongong, Most Rev Brian Mascord; Diocese of Wollongong Vicar-General, Fr Bernard Gordon and Director of Catholic Development Fund, Tony Sanderson.
The room was also filled with invited guests, principals, senior leadership from the Catholic Education Office, award nominees and recipients, family and friends.
After much anticipation, Mark McKinnon from St John the Evangelist Catholic High School, Nowra took home the 2018 Lighting the Way Award, while former Team Leader of Spiritual Formation, Suz Marden was named as the recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Recognition Award.
Peter Turner offered his congratulations to the finalists and award recipients, saying that in his experience, staff were rarely comfortable or accustomed to giving themselves positive commentary or praise.
"Part of realising our mission to create vibrant Catholic school communities focused on faith and learning, is the affirmation and recognition of the people in our schools and education offices who make this happen,” he said.
“It is appropriate to take time to celebrate such significant achievement. We gather together to recognise and promote the value of professional and personal accomplishment in the ministry of teaching and Catholic education.”
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
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.
OUTSTANDING EARLY CAREER TEACHER AWARD
The Outstanding Early Career Teacher Award is awarded to 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.
Outstanding Early Career Teacher Award:
Vincent Iacono, Magdalene Catholic High School, Narellan
PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE AWARDS
The Professional Practice Awards acknowledge the outstanding achievement and efforts of individual staff who, in the course of their work and study, have been exemplary in a particular area of educational endeavour.
Leading Catholic Life, Education and Mission Award:
Kate Burnett, Holy Spirit College, Bellambi
Leading Teaching and Learning Award:
Christopher Dyson, Corpus Christi Catholic High School, Oak Flats
Developing Self and Others Award:
Maria Turner, St Joseph’s Catholic Parish Primary School, Bulli
Engaging and Working with the Community Award:
Neil McCann, Catholic Education Office
LIGHTING THE WAY AWARD
The most prestigious award of the night, the Lighting the Way Award is given to the most meritorious of all the Professional Practice Award applications that demonstrates an outstanding contribution to the growth in faith and improvement in learning of students of the Diocese.
The 2018 Lighting the Way Award, in the category Leading Improvement, Innovation and Change:
Mark McKinnon, St John the Evangelist Catholic High School, Nowra
DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT RECOGNITION AWARD
Mr Turner awarded the Distinguished Achievement Recognition Award to former Team Leader of Spiritual Formation, Suz Marden.
"Suz is an exceptional leader who has quite literally transformed the lives of those around her. She has made an exceptional contribution to the mission of Catholic education and has achieved this with grace, wisdom, kindness and an extraordinary energy and commitment."
LENGTH OF SERVICE RECOGNITION AWARDS
The 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 presented by the Director of the Catholic Development Fund, Tony Sanderson for those with 25 years of service and over.
Moreover, the evening validated the good news stories that define our Catholic schools. "We have a mutual obligation to our profession to share the good news stories in our schools," Mr Turner said.
"The stories of staff who’ve dedicated their professional working lives to educating the young; who’ve collaborated with their peers to improve educational outcomes in literacy or numeracy or Religious Education; who’ve given an extra effort above and beyond, to bring out the best in a student’s sporting achievement or in the creative and performing arts; who’ve led the way in making technology a useful and effective learning tool, or who have been there to provide a safe and pastoral helping hand for those in need of care and compassion."
Bishop Brian commended those being recognised, “To those who have received awards and those that have been nominated for awards, those who have been acknowledged for length of service, I’d like to simply say thank you and congratulations because that’s the gift of commitment.
“It’s evident that it’s not just about a job, it’s about a way of expressing a relationship. A relationship you have with the Church and with our God. So as fellow educators, congratulations and thank you for the gift you are to the young people, fellow teachers and the schools of the Diocese of Wollongong.”
The complete Lighting the Way Faith and Learning Recognition Awards event is available to view here