The 2019 Docemus Award recipients were presented at a special function to culminate the end of Catholic Education Week.
The Docemus Awards were founded by former Cairns Catholic Education Director Tom Doolan in 2002. Meaning ‘to teach’, the awards acknowledge and celebrate the exceptional commitment, achievement and contribution to Catholic Education by staff, volunteers and supporters of Catholic Education.
Early Career Teacher Award: Breye Buckland, St Joseph’s School, Parramatta Park
Proudly sponsored by QIEC Super
Risk-taker, growth mindset, active contributor, problem-solver, mentor, communicator: these are but some of the impressive qualities attributed to Breye. In her nomination, Breye is described as ‘an inspirational early years’ teacher whose actions and passion reminds us all of why we chose the vocation of teaching.’ This reminder, this energy, this passion contributes significantly to the life and light of her school.
Innovation and resourcefulness are evident in her classroom and professional practice. Not only has Breye initiated a STEAM PIT for senior students but has been instrumental in developing STEAM in the classrooms across her school through modeling lessons and providing additional support for her colleagues.
Her deep commitment to her own faith development and that of her students is evidenced in the active role she plays in her parish community, and further evidenced in her role breaking open texts with her Prep students to help them grow as part of our faith community.
In the articulate words of her nominees, teaching the youngest of our children to explore, question and love learning is a challenging task. Those who choose to teach Prep are brave, and to do it with passion, rigor and joy on a daily basis. Breye meets this challenge daily, motivating and inspiring her students, and students across the school modeling though her work the very essence and focus of Catholic Education – our students.
Primary Teacher Award: Christine Edwards, St Clare’s School, Tully
Proudly sponsored by the Cairns Catholic Primary Principals’ Association
Chris has been a teacher at St Clare’s for the past 16 years and is recognised for leading and facilitating change and school improvement. Chris is a passionate, experienced teacher who excels in all areas of her work. She enthusiastically shares in the learning journey with her Year 6 class, whilst leading the school as the Curriculum Support Teacher.
Chris is an authentic role model to her peers, both as a teacher and a leader of curriculum. She is a positive staff member who has genuine and supportive relationships with colleagues and parents across the school community. In terms of faith, Chris, by words and actions, reveals the face of Christ in her everyday interactions with students, teachers and families.
Chris has outstanding contemporary curriculum and pedagogical knowledge and willingly adopts new initiatives with eagerness at both the classroom level and within her curriculum leadership. Chris’ consistency of message in terms of high expectations and striving for excellence provides an example and challenge to students. She actively seeks ways to best provide for all students and differentiation is a priority for her.
St Clare’s School is blessed to have such a dedicated teacher who has the students at the heart of her teaching and helps lead the school to make it the best place it can be.
Secondary Teacher Award: Janet Ross, St Mary’s Catholic College, Woree
Proudly sponsored by Cairns Catholic Secondary Principals’ Association
Janet’s career has always been with Catholic Education in the Diocese of Cairns. Initially employed as a beginning teacher at Good Counsel College, Innisfail, Janet has been a member of the St Mary’s Catholic College community since 2001.
One of Janet’s gifts to the St Mary’s Catholic College community is the way in which she leads. As a middle leader she encourages positivity and trust within the department, she models clear expectations, mentors beginning teachers and is supportive and compassionate. However, Janet also displays the same effective personal and professional relationships with all her fellow staff members. She is quick to see when help may be needed, and she is there to support in an efficient and caring way.
Janet is committed to providing an invigorating education for young people. She is well read and up-to-date with new initiatives. Janet consistently reviews programs and upskills herself to ensure that staff have a clear understanding of the required curriculum changes.
Janet understands the importance of positive contributions to the greater education community which benefits teachers and students across the state. To this end, Janet has been both district panel chair and state panel member for Business Communication and Technologies and she has recently been appointed Lead Endorser of the new Business syllabus. She also sits on the State Advisory Business Consultation Group which provides QCAA with information to strengthen Business Studies in Queensland.
School Officer Award: Robyn Bloomfield, Holy Spirit College, Cooktown
Proudly sponsored by the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia & Papua New Guinea
Robyn is considered the matriarch of the Boarding School at Holy Spirit College, Cooktown. She holds the boarding family together with love, care and strength. Robyn cares for every young person with respect and empathy, as if they were her own children. They become part of a large extended, loving family – something that many of our young people haven’t experienced before. She will also involve herself with each of the day students ensuring they are ok.
Robyn goes out of her way to ensure each young person is treated in an equitable manner and she gives of her time, resources and self to those who need it most. It can also mean going and working with families about issues or taking someone to the doctors if a health issue arises.
Robyn gives of her time freely and connects with communities, contacting parents, families and carers to keep them up to date about their young person and events. Robyn talks with community organisations and support agencies to assist young people in their transition to the college or from the college onto other boarding schools. Robyn continues her community work during holiday breaks and in her ‘time off’. The relationships Robyn develops has resulted in young people and community engaging with the college to assist those who would otherwise be lost from education.
Robyn loves what she does and the love she has for the young people in her care is obvious. Her caring for others comes naturally to her. The relationships Robyn builds and the work she does touches many people in the Holy Spirit College community and beyond. Robyn truly represents the spirit of service to others.
Leadership Award: Rita Petersen, St Thomas of Villanova Parish School, Mareeba
Proudly sponsored by Catholic Education Diocese of Cairns
Rita demonstrates a life-long commitment to Catholic Education and to the students in her care. Rita is actively involved in her parish community and enhances the religious dimension of the school by modelling strong gospel values through words and actions. She makes every effort to get to know students and parents on a personal level and build strong relationships with all stakeholders. Throughout her years as a principal, there have been many occasions where families have experienced hardship and grief. In these situations, Rita always shows compassion and empathy to these families by offering them support.
Rita has earned a reputation among staff and families as being in touch with the school community. She makes an enormous effort to learn the names of every student and their families so that she can build a strong, personal relationship with all members of the school community. On any given day, Rita can be seen out on playground duty interacting with students, or on the footpath before school having conversations with parents as they drop their children at school. She often says that the most important part of her role as principal is the “3 Rs – relationships, relationships, relationships”.
Rita has a vision for St Thomas’ and works towards ensuring that the whole school community is striving towards the same vision. She keeps up-to-date with current educational research and evaluates the research to ensure that the students at St Thomas’ are receiving the very best education that we can offer.
Volunteer Supporter Award: Sue Newton, Our Lady Help of Christians School, Earlville
Proudly supported by Catholic School Parents Queensland Diocese of Cairns
Sue Newton is the parent that every Catholic school wants within their community. Sue is a powerhouse of energy with an unwavering commitment to Our Lady Help of Christians School (OLHOC).
Since joining the OLHOC community in 2015, Sue has participated actively within the Parents and Friends Association, the OLHOC School Board and more recently representing the school at the Diocesan Parents and Friends Association.
Sue is a shift worker who somehow also manages to attend every meeting, volunteer in the tuckshop, actively coordinate P&F activities and organise food for celebrating NAPLAN, staff morning teas and whatever else might be going on. Sue is a very friendly face that is constantly around the school, talking to other parents, staff and the children; making sure that everyone is going well and ensuring we all know what is happening within the community.
Her commitment is selfless – at its heart is the wellbeing of every member of the OLHOC community whether that is a warm welcome for new families or needed support for a family doing it tough. It is also not uncommon for wonderful treats to find their way into our school, only to hear that Sue was up until midnight making them for everyone to enjoy.
One of her particularly memorable achievements was Sue’s pivotal role a few years ago in organising the OLHOC float for the Cairns Festival. The entry not only cleaned up every prize going but it was also a wonderful team building exercise for the OLHOC community.
Sue also contributes to the OLHOC community through her work on the School Board. Sue is very passionate about working with the Principal and other board members to ensure that OLHOC has every opportunity to thrive in the years ahead. Not surprisingly, Sue is passionate about building community and making strategic decisions that allow the children to enjoy their childhood whilst at the same time getting the best education possible.
People like Sue Newton are the very fibre that pulls the fabric of the OLHOC community together.