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SA Excellence in Public Education Award

Championing children’s wellbeing for learning and life

12 Sep 2016

Having mostly taught in disadvantaged schools throughout her career, Steph Hentschel knows firsthand the impact positive wellbeing has on children’s engagement and learning.

The Year 3/4 teacher works at Blair Athol North Primary School where around 75 per cent of the students come from backgrounds where English is a second language, including many refugee students and those who have experienced great poverty and disadvantage.

SA Public Excellence Award Finalist - StephSteph “team teaches” with two other teachers to focus on wellbeing and building strong relationships.

“I believe that wellbeing and learning are so closely linked,” she says.

“I’d like to see all schools have a central focus on Wellbeing for Learning and Life, which is a framework for building resilience in children and young people, because children with positive wellbeing are more engaged in their learning.

“Seeing children happy and motivated to learn is very rewarding. I enjoy watching them grow, progress, persist and overcome challenges, and listening to them talk about and reflect upon their learning.”

Steph has always enjoyed working with children. She recalls her own high school experience, which was highly influenced by two teachers who made learning fun. That positive experience – in addition to her love of teamwork – led her to apply for and complete her teaching degree with Flinders University.

Steph enjoys the challenge of keeping up with trends and new knowledge, and is keen to improve her teaching practice.

“Teaching in disadvantaged schools and within such a multicultural environment has made me think more about the stories and experiences children bring to school,” she says. “I’d like to be involved in more positions outside of the classroom that are related to the wellbeing of children.”

Steph said the SA Excellence in Public Education Award nominations was a great way to recognise and value educators’ work.

“I’m honoured to have received a nomination, but because I work so closely within a team of teachers I see the nomination as recognition of our team rather than of me as an individual,” she says.

“I wouldn’t be the educator I am without the influence and work of those around me.”