A significant night of celebration and acknowledgement of staff and volunteers across the Cairns Diocese was held at St Andrew’s theatre last night.
The Awards night with a difference was for both the annual Docemus and Spirit of Catholic Education (SOCE) Awards and was livestreamed due to limited seating and COVID-safe restrictions. The event can be viewed below.
The Docemus Awards (Cairns) were founded for former Cairns Catholic Education Director Tom Doolan in 2002. ‘Docemus’ meaning ‘we teach’, acknowledges and celebrates the exceptional commitment, achievement, and contribution to Catholic Education by staff, volunteers and supporters.
The SOCE Awards are an annual acknowledgement of outstanding service by recipients nominated from Dioceses across Queensland.
Congratulations to all Award recipients.
Early Career Teacher – Julia Honnef (Docemus)
St Rita’s School, South Johnstone
Sponsored by NGS Super
Even though Julia is in the third year of her teaching career, she displays great maturity beyond her years. She is an excellent Early Years’ teacher.
Upon arrival at St Rita’s last year Julia established relationships with her Prep students by writing to each one of them introducing herself and welcoming them to her class. Julia continues to establish firm connections between home and school, regularly taking time to meet with parents, or even just to catch them at pick-up to share anecdotes about their children. Julia who has always been an avid user of Seesaw and continues to provide parents with an insight into their children’s school day with regular updates to student journals.
Her class this year presented some added challenges including four students with disabilities. Julia has met these challenges head on and has provided the best learning opportunities for her students. She took the initiative and met with various therapists from CES in her own time before the school year commenced and put into practice many of the suggestions offered about catering to the sensitivities and needs of her students. One such action was her dedication to learn and incorporate AUSLAN signs into her morning routine, so that a student with communication difficulties could interact with his peers.
Julia takes time to ensure her teaching and learning cycles not only cater to the individual needs of each and every student. She also goes out of her way to provide engaging hands on activities that really capture the interests of her students leading to high quality engagement, as well as social and academic growth. She has a genuine interest in others by treating each person she meets with the utmost respect.
Julia’s dedication to the teaching profession is extremely high. She is a very good Christian role model for her fellow colleagues, her students and for her school community. She is vibrant and caring and is passionate about her vocation.
Leadership – Antoinette Cole (Docemus & SOCE)
Consultant Formation – First Nations, Catholic Education Services (CES), Cairns
Sponsored by Catholic Education Services, Diocese of Cairns
Through Antoinette’s actions and ability to develop strong and authentic relationships, she operates as a highly efficient, motivated, and successful leader, equally reflecting the attributes of all SOCE award categories.
2020 marks a time when the Cairns Diocese has witnessed the greatest progress and visibility of First Nations agendas. Due to years of determination, grit, and outstanding leadership on Antoinette’s behalf, she has created positive change by asserting a voice for First Nations peoples and perspectives in a system founded in western values. In 2020, these 8+ years of service at CES, many of which required challenging the system and status-quo, have culminated in the launch of two significant milestones for the Cairns Diocese, the First Nations Education Policy and the Reconciliation Action Plan.
As a proud Torres Strait Islander descendant, Antoinette is acutely aware of the complexities affecting First Nations peoples both personally and professionally and provides clarity to ensure First Nations Education and agendas are everyone’s business. Her organisational leadership of First Nations initiatives, and proven ability to partner and broker with a broad range of stakeholders are enhanced by her strategic planning skills and has paved the way for CES and schools across the Cairns Diocese to develop, maintain and sustain relationships with Traditional Owner groups.
For over 25 years in education, Antoinette has taken the lead regarding First Nations engagement, and has done this at a system level, state-wide and nationally. While employed as Consultant Formation – First Nations, Antoinette also enacts her leadership within the wider community as a Board Member of ARC Disability Services Inc, and a member of the First Nations Council of Elders and Leaders with CQUniversity. She is also an active member of QCEC Indigenous Education Network and exercises her leadership nationally as a Board Director of Indigenous Education Boarding Australia. In 2017, Antoinette co-presented the work she led with the CES First Nations Education Team at the World Indigenous People’s Conference on Education in Toronto, gaining respect and affirmation of an International scale.
Antoinette leads with her heart to inspire hope and shared vision amongst her colleagues. She advocates for a future where reconciliation endures, where improvements in learning and teaching pave the way for equitable opportunities for First Nations staff and students to achieve and celebrate success. She demonstrates outstanding service within and beyond the Catholic Education community and shows integrity as a formidable leader within CES.
Primary Teacher – Renee Grima (Docemus)
St Gerard Majella Primary School, Woree
Sponsored by Cairns Catholic Primary Principals Association
Renee is an influential and inspirational member of the leadership team at St Gerard Majella School, holding the role of Leader of Learning and Teaching. She is an exceptional role model, successfully managing dual roles at school and her own family priorities.
Renee’s leadership has been invaluable to the success of our staff response to the recent challenges of converting a face to face program of learning, to a digital platform. Renee has successfully led this change from the front; taking a very hands-on role in the development of the school’s Continuity of Learning site and offering support to staff in creating such a user-friendly access point for our families. Renee continued to research and evaluate a large variety of digital platforms and used her knowledge and experience to guide staff. She also sought out further professional development for staff to ensure that staff had increased skills, knowledge and confidence to utilise technology.
Renee performs her dual role of Leader of Learning and Teaching and classroom teacher with integrity, enthusiasm, confidence and professionalism. Renee is approachable and available to all staff and students. Her rapport with students and staff alike is enviable. Students greet her with enthusiasm in the playground and she always responds with a personalised greeting to each and every student.
Staff seek Renee out for support and advice as she is prompt and efficient in locating information or providing assistance. A problem solver by nature, Renee is always ready and willing to get involved in everything that is happening around the school and puts the needs of others before her own. As the Leader of Learning and Teaching, Renee leads many of our professional learning team meetings, providing honest and genuine feedback to staff to support them to improve practice. She always displays fairness and inclusion in her dealings with staff, parents and students with a genuine concern for the wellbeing of all. In the past, Renee held the role of SEL coordinator and she ensures that the social-emotional capacities are embedded across all areas of the curriculum.
Many of our staff aspire to reach the levels of organisation Renee displays and she has played a major role in leading the SGM staff in enhancing their skills and knowledge as our community drives towards a more contemporary approach to learning and teaching.
School Officer – Helena Tutoe (Docemus)
St Mary’s Catholic College, Woree
Sponsored by Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia & Papua New Guinea
Helena actively seeks out opportunities to serve not only the College, but the further local community as well, through the College youth group that she has established, “Missio Dei” (“mission of God”). Through this, Helena has selflessly given hours of her own time on weekends, holidays and after school to serve. Her infectious enthusiasm inspires both students and staff – she doesn’t just organise for students to volunteer, but she is at the forefront of the show, getting in and getting the job done along with the students.
Through Missio Dei, Helena has accompanied groups of students to sing carols at the Nursing Home, made food for Rosies, helped to make paper Daffodils for the Oncology ward, catered to staff on Mother’s and Father’s Day, volunteered at the Cairns Running Festival and Ironman event, engaged the College in prayer for Mary during May, and attended and contributed to College retreats. Helena has created a culture of belonging in Missio Dei, which attracts not only our high academic students, but also those that have trouble making friends and fitting in. She fundraised, advocated for, and accompanied a group of students to the Ignite Conference last year, which aimed to further develop and question the faith of students in attendance. This life-changing opportunity would not exist if not for Helena’s genuine passion to maximise opportunities for our students.
Development of spiritual wellbeing is Helena’s primary job, but she exceeds this daily. During the challenging COVID-19 isolation, Helena created a “Mental Health Challenge”, encouraging students to create videos of activities that they do to maintain positive mental health. Her willingness to go above and beyond her call of duty has made Helena a real attribute to our College.
When Helena addresses the College at Liturgies, she takes old-age scripture reading and relates them to tangible, everyday experiences that resonate with our contemporary students, ensuring maximal impact. Her involvement in year level and school liturgies has been remarkable in the spiritual development of our students and has unquestionably helped to establish the catholic identity of our College. Helena is an asset to St. Mary’s, epitomising the values of a great Catholic school.
Secondary Teacher – Andrea O’Grady (Docemus)
St Mary’s Catholic College, Woree
Sponsored by Catholic Secondary Principals, Cairns
Andrea is an exemplary teacher and Head of Religion, committed to providing the best possible learning experience for all students of St Mary’s students. Her passion of years of experience allow her to incorporate her wisdom and Christian values into her daily interactions with staff and students. Andrea has been a teacher of Mathematics, ICT, Italian and Religion at St Mary’s Catholic College for 26 years.
She has humbly served the College community fulfilling many roles: parent, teacher, co-ordinator and College leadership. Through her actions she has shown her values of excellence, service, caring, and reliability, as she has inspired teachers and students to be their personal best.
Andrea does not settle for ‘just enough’ in terms of teaching. Andrea is determined to provide excellent education experiences for all students, regularly engaging in professional development and reflection. Her passion for Religion and Mathematics enables Andrea to develop quality teaching experiences, giving real-life examples. She is always willing to implement new technological advances computer into the curriculum.
In delivering Religion to students across the College, Andrea focuses on presenting a curriculum that is relevant to all students in the school. She searches for additional resources and learning experiences to engage the students in the classroom and provides resources for all year levels. She has encouraged her Religion students to truly empathise with the poor by engaging with them in the Poverty challenge whereby they had to survive on just $2 worth of food each day for a week. She has supervised our homeless sleepover in the past and took part in our 17-hour famine to raise money and awareness of the less fortunate.
Andrea is thoughtful of others needs and willing to be of service. Her work in developing the College curriculum in Catholic faith in Action and the new year 10 Religion and Ethics course has been inspiring as she searches to find those resources that inspire students to become a better person to develop that whole person.
As House Coordinator previously, she has developed student leaders and encouraged participation in many College events. She currently acts as the support teacher for the Cahill house captains and Liturgy committee. She has been an organiser of St Mary’s feast day for engaging teachers and students as a community.
Andrea cares about her students and the people she works with. Andrea treats people gently and respectfully. When you speak and act courteously, you give others a feeling of being valued and respected – this is one of Andrea’s greatest gifts.
Volunteer – Warren Dunn (Docemus)
St Augustine’s and St Monica’s Colleges, Cairns
Sponsored by Catholic School Parents Queensland, Diocese of Cairns
Most nominees for this award in recent years have made a significant contribution to one or a few schools. Very rarely do we see a nominee who has made a positive impact across all schools. In this capacity Warren Dunn has made an enormous volunteer contribution to education in the Cairns Diocese.
Warren has been involved as a parent at three of our schools – at St Francis Xavier’s School, St Monica’s College and St Augustine’s College. He was a diocesan P&F representative for all three schools and served on the boards at St Francis Xavier’s School and St Monica’s College – including three years as chair at St Monica’s.
Warren served as the Deputy Chair of the Diocesan P&F for six years and as its chair for two years and was until recently one of two Cairns representatives on the State P&F Council. He has served on several Catholic Education working groups and his ongoing support and service to education saw Warren appointed to the Diocesan Board of Governance for Education in 2017 where he continues to serve today.
Throughout this journey Warren has consistently shown professionalism, dedication and more than a little diplomacy as the occasion required. He played a key role in strengthening the relationship between the State P&F and our schools and diocese and we see the real benefits of that positive partnership.
In this capacity he guided the evolution of the parent engagement model we see in our schools today, characterised by the emergence of Catholic School Parents Queensland which now replaces the historic P&Fs. Change like this is not about flicking a switch – it involves cultural change, the acceptance of new ideas and the willingness to change direction.
Warren played a huge role in this transformation – patient, understanding, collegial and inclusive but also quietly determined and committed to enacting the changes that he recognised would ultimately benefit all school families. Many school P&F presidents and executives will recall that Warren was always willing to walk them through their local challenges, through a phone call or a meeting.
If we might use a Bible reference from Micah to summarise Warren’s involvement – he is a person who has demonstrated a capacity to ‘do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with his God’.
We thank him for his ongoing journey with us, for his passion to make our schools a better place for our students and their families, for his calm demeanour and most of all for being a good person doing good things for the benefit of others.
Lifelong – Sr Therese Masterson (Docemus)
St Monica’s College, Cairns
Sponsored by Diocese of Cairns
Sister Therese Masterson may be the last Sister of Mercy working at St Monica’s College.
Her contribution to St Monica’s and Catholic Education has been her life’s work. As a staff member at St Monica’s for an impressive 54 years, Therese has made significant contributions to the leadership of the College as an inspirational educator, leader and person of Faith.
She has made a difference in the lives of students and many others as they carried out their responsibilities in Catholic Education. A Sister of Mercy in all aspect of her leadership role, she has a deep compassion for the poor and a strong sense of dignity of every human.
Retiring from the position of Deputy Principal – Pastoral Care at St Monica’s at the end of 2006, she then worked part-time as Year 9 Co-ordinator and Religious Education teacher.
However, Therese has never fully retired as she is still the Curator of the College Archives and a very active member of both the College Board and Alumni. She continues to be an enormous support to the students and staff at St Monica’s, particularly the College Captains. Each year, she gives the speech to Year 11 students about the importance of those they select to lead them in their senior years as well as being part of the Welcoming Committee for the new Year 7 students.
Sister Therese’s leadership is by example – a lifetime commitment characterised by faith, love, generosity, service and hard work. St Monica’s College has been greatly blessed to have such leadership as provided by Sister Therese Masterson.
This year, Sister Therese celebrates her 80th birthday.
Primary Teacher – Madonna Lawrence (SOCE)
St Joseph’s School, Atherton
As a teacher, Madonna has been a part of our school community for over 10 years and a valued contributor to our community for much longer.
While her own children were young, Madonna’s was chiefly a parent at our school, providing relief teaching when available. Madonna did not let the lack of title stop her from having a positive impact in the school community. She regularly held sessions for parents on literacy and social & emotional learning helping to build capacity & connection with families.
When she became a full member of staff, her integrity & passion shone further as a driver and co-ordinator of the social & emotional learning program and advocator for play based learning long before it become mainstream.
“During kindy, when parent conversations shifted to local schools, St Joseph’s & Mrs Lawrence were always mentioned in the same breath such was her reputation in the community – there was barely a choice to be made.” – Kasmin (Parent)
Madonna is an inspiring example for social justice & playing an active role in community. Whole classes often become members of the Mini Vinnies program she runs, holding events/drives throughout the year and regularly contributing to the local St Vincent’s branch.
Madonna is also a driving force behind our Debutante Ball, an event remaining strong in our community due to its valued reputation. In 2018 the ABC ran a story on the event interviewing Madonna on the importance of what’s seen as an “old tradition” for building respect, confidence and relationship skills in today’s society.
Our Maize Festival, an annual event in our town, was also lucky to have Madonna as a tireless volunteer behind the Queen program, which also focuses on building the confidence and spirit of contribution in our community.
Demonstrating her passion for equal opportunities and embodying Catholic spirit, Madonna has taken the lead on Trauma Informed Learning (Berry Street Model). She completed the Master program and now acts as a mentor for other teachers and leadership.
Beautifully gentle in nature and humble despite her stunning pedagogical abilities, Madonna remains a deeply valued and respected member of our community. Her students adore her, parents and families find her ever approachable and fellow teachers are always welcome for mentorship and advice.
“Madonna is everything you could ever want for in a teacher, the most nurturing, loving, thoughtful, caring lady. We cannot thank her enough for all the extra love she puts in helping our little ones grow and learn. Forever Thankful for you.” – Jessie (Parent)