The Spirit of Catholic Education Awards have been announced for 2017! Congratulations to our Cairns Diocese recipient Ben Smith for his work at Mt St Bernard College in Herberton!
Mount St Bernard College, Herberton (now at St Andrew’s Catholic College)
It takes a brave, courageous teacher to stand up for the vulnerable and set about a plan to make a difference for First Nations students in the field of Mathematics. Yet such a plan has driven the three-year journey of Mr Ben Smith, Middle Leader Maths, Mount St Bernard College, Herberton. In 2015 Ben began his mission, to plant the seed of change. He believed it necessary to identify practices that address those barriers that limit positive educational outcomes for Aboriginal students and Torres Strait Islander students.
Ben’s tireless efforts culminated in the Positive Mathematics for First Nations Students conference held at the College in March 2017. The group working in conjunction with James Cook University and Catholic Education Services Cairns, saw over 50 people attend the conference from over 20 educational institutes.
Furthermore, Ben is working with JCU to develop a platform associated with First Nations Education. They are looking beyond the learning experience within the classroom; whereby the platform’s core focus is to ensure there is both support and understanding of the whole student.
Ben’s unrelenting efforts have inspired a network of educators across North Queensland to commit to addressing the mathematical needs of all First Nations students. The legacy created by Ben ensures that, in the future, educators and school leaders will focus on programs that enhance the mathematical outcomes of First Nations students in our schools with specific strategies, pedagogy, commitment and an underpinning belief in social justice.
Ben has just this term accepted a position here at St Andrew’s Catholic College. He has positively changed, and will continue to change, the lives of First Nations students for many years to come.