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SA Excellence in Public Education Awards

Quiet achiever with a passion for lifelong learning

4 Oct 2016

Cassie Young wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after high school, but a gentle nudge from her Dad set her on the path to becoming a teacher and it didn’t take long to recognise her love of teaching and learning.

Cassie says she feels privileged to teach and enjoys the teamwork with other educators to help students achieve their goals.

“Seeing students set personal learning goals and work hard to achieve them is wonderful,” she says.

SA Public Excellence Award Finalist - Cassie“I love working within a team because we learn from each other, and challenge and support each other. Importantly, too, the students benefit from having three unique sets of teachers’ skills in one year rather than just one.

“I thoroughly enjoy the relationships I form with the students and feel privileged to be an important person in their lives.”

Cassie, who has been teaching for 10 years, has taught an alternative learning program for at-risk and disengaged students, and currently teaches a class of 30 year 6/7 students at Mt Barker South Primary School in the Adelaide Hills where she also teaches one day a week as a literacy coach across all year levels.

“In this role, I coach and mentor students with a focus in leading and supporting a whole-school improvement in literacy,” she says.

“Recently my role changed slightly to focus on developing students’ learning dispositions so they can become independent and deep-thinking learners.”

Cassie credits Mt Barker South Primary School Principal, Catherine Cox-Walliss for providing so many opportunities to extend her professional development.

“I’ve learnt a lot and believe this is largely due to the collective drive staff have for whole-of-school improvement,” she says. “We’re encouraged to take risks, experiment with teaching pedagogies and challenge ourselves and each other.

“Catherine has encouraged me to build on my strengths and has mentored me in my roles as class room teacher and as the school’s literacy coach – I’m so grateful for the opportunities she’s provided.”

Cassie was surprised and humbled to receive the two nominations in this year’s SA Excellence in Teaching Awards and didn’t expect to become a finalist.

“It was enough to read the thoughtful comments from those who nominated me!” she says. “I’ll definitely be nominating wonderful staff in future years as it really does feel good to be recognised for the hard work we put in.

“I feel quite embarrassed by the attention I’ve received and even hesitated telling my own family, especially Mum, who has already told all of her friends – and the family GP!

“Now that the news has been published in the local newspaper I’ve had to put my awkwardness aside because it’s great for the school community to be recognised.

“Teachers are very good at looking for growth opportunities, and developing skills and talents in students – and we’re constantly encouraging our students with positive feedback and recognition – but we’re not so good at recognising our own strengths. 

“We’re reluctant to give ourselves a pat on the back, but Award programs such as this help.”