EREA Charter Leadership Awards recipients announced
On Saturday night Principals and EREA leaders gathered in Melbourne for our annual Thanksgiving Mass. At the conclusion of the mass the EREA Charter Leadership Awards were presented to the 2017 recipients.
These Awards recognise people from our school communities who exemplify the very best of what a Catholic education in the Edmund Rice tradition can be. The Awards attracted over thirty five nominations from across our network and I know that the selection committee members were deeply moved by reading so many wonderful stories of selflessness, compassion, service and commitment.

I am pleased to announce this year’s recipients and share their citations:

Inclusive Community Award – Fiona Hales, St James College Brisbane

Fiona has been a teacher at St James College for the past 19 years.  For a greater part of those years she has been involved in the teaching of students for whom English is a second, third or fourth language. Many of these students are refugees and asylum seekers, and Fiona is described as “an extraordinary example of how a commitment to each child can bring so much joy - and when this happens to an entire school community, this joy is amplified and becomes infectious”.

Fiona’s working day is hard to define. She is a classroom teacher, provides pastoral support to students and families, liaises between home and school, helps strengthen networks of community and social services partnerships, and she is also a tutor who provides English as an ‘Additional Language or Dialect’ support. 

Her colleagues say that Fiona rarely takes a break; she can often be seen sitting in the courtyard at a picnic table (her ‘office’ as she describes it) surrounded by 5 or 6 students at any one time during the school day.

She also engages with government agencies, and community and family groups such as: the Multicultural Development Association, Community Alliance, Qld Program for Assistance of Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT), Access Community Services, Mental Health Professional Network for Young Migrants and Refugees, Youth Outreach Service, Brisbane Catholic Education, Centrelink, the Immigration Department, Department of Transport, medical professionals, and the Police. Much of this work is done in her own time and often after school hours.

Fiona's students identify with her disarming and ‘heart-on-sleeve’ sense of humour. She challenges them to think outside of their situation and to engage with others; she laughs and generously and genuinely 'wastes time' with them; listens to and, indeed, loves them.

Earlier this year Fiona was presented with the ‘Australian Positive Teacher Award’ at the National Positive Schools Conference held in Brisbane – a wonderful recognition of her work of so many years.

Liberating Education Award – Denise Lombardo, St Patrick’s College Strathfield

Denise has been a member of the College Executive at St Patrick’s College for three years and has had a significant impact on the teaching and learning culture at the College.  She has truly opened hearts and minds through quality teaching and learning experiences, not only for students, but for her colleagues and parents alike.
Denise has brought to the College a deep understanding of authentic learning and its place within the world as a whole, enhancing and not diminishing what already existed. Over a two year period Denise began and worked on the development of a new Learning Framework which was launched at the beginning of 2017.  To do this Denise established a collaborative Learning Framework Committee, and interviewed, surveyed and engaged all members of the community at different stages of the project.

The Learning Framework is centred on 5 key elements – Relationships, Collaboration, Critical and Creative Thinking, Reflection and Feedback, and Growth Mindset.  These underpin all areas of learning at the College. What makes Denise’s work in this area quite unique is that she stresses the need for reflection at all times and ensures that learning does not sideline the pursuits of justice and peace in our world; instead it complements them.

The Learning Framework was not created, launched and forgotten. Denise continues to drive its implementation into College life.  She has developed working committees for each of the elements of the Framework and works with staff and students to ensure it stays alive. 

Denise has also shared the Framework and her expertise with many staff from other schools.  The Learning Framework has also formed the foundation of another initiatives at the College, including the Professional Development Framework.

In all that Denise has done throughout these 3 years to bring to life the Learning Framework, improve IT practices, develop tools and policies, and oversee the diverse learning needs of all students, she has placed a commitment to Catholic values at the forefront of everybody’s minds and hearts. She has always stressed with the whole community that while teaching and learning are important, they must be for the greater good; they must serve the purpose of educating good, faith-filled citizens who use their talents and learnings to benefit others.  She has stressed that at no point is learning selfish, but that it is centred on creating a world of hope, justice and peace.

Gospel Spirituality Award – Sam Tadros, Edmund Rice College Wollongong

Sam is the Deputy Principal at Edmund Rice College and has been staff member at the College since 1982. To quote from the community’s nomination, “In his role, Sam has had a quite extraordinary impact on the life of the College. In various roles as Year Coordinator, Pastoral Care Coordinator, Religious Education Coordinator, Director of Studies, and Deputy Principal, Sam has enriched the lives of thousands of young men with his passion for working with staff and young people framed by an authenticity in mission and personal service. He has worked tirelessly to develop a Catholic school where a passion for the Gospel promotes in young men a commitment to service and the common good as a   foundation of their learning and source of their emerging identity.”
A constant in Sam’s work at Edmund Rice College is his enthusiastic, thorough, and positive approach to all that he does. Inspired by a strong personal faith and the teachings of Christ, Sam’s interactions with staff and students conveys a leadership which is inspirational to all and indispensable to the development of the College community.

Sam strives to make Jesus’ message of compassion for others a living message of reality in the College. Such a priority is demonstrated in the evolution of the role of Deputy Principal at the College to include the overseeing of student pastoral care and welfare, and Sam’s compassion and sense of justice is much valued by staff and students alike.  The level of respect that students have for Sam is matched by his unwavering optimism and belief in them. 

Sam’s Principal describes him as a protégé of Edmund, inspired by the Gospels, always present in the College, walking alongside staff and students on a daily basis. Peter also writes that there is calmness at the College which emanates from Sam’s presence.   And that the reputation for authentic pastoral care at the College, well known in the local community, is undoubtedly linked to Sam’s leadership.

For over 35 years at Edmund Rice College Sam has inspired both staff and students with his compassion, dedication, service, and authentic presence. Much loved, Sam displays a humility, transparency and conviction borne of deep reflection on the core values that define ERC as a wonderful Catholic school in the Edmund Rice tradition. 

Justice and Solidarity Award – Kylie Kuppe, Parade College Bundoora

Kylie has been a very visible and enabling presence for students at Parade College, raising awareness of just causes and encouraging and supporting students in a multitude of ways including:  establishing an Advocacy Group which engages in activities with and for refugees and asylum seekers; leading the Detention for Detention initiative in support of young people who are detained in migrant detention centres; establishing a Sustainability Committee at the College; and working with College Prefects to promote awareness and fund-raising for the Comboni Sisters who work in war torn regions of South Sudan.

In addition, Kylie is a member of the College Ministry and Counselling Teams, and regularly assists with the College’s service programs such as Tutoring families in detention, running a Brekky Van for the homeless, and hosting a Christmas party for the elderly.

If that wasn’t enough to keep Kylie busy, she is also involved in the Year 10 Community Action Program, has established a Computer Club, and is a Year 12 retreat leader.
In nominating her for this award members of the College community especially highlighted how Kylie saw the need to assist some students develop social skills. This led to her introducing the Smiles Program, and the Seasons Program for those boys struggling with grief within their family.

Kylie has also been part of a number of Immersion experiences, including Lake Mungo and India, as well as being actively engaged with the Wunan Project between Parade and Mercy College, working with and befriending the Indigenous students from the Kimberley Region as well as working with Fire Carriers and other indigenous students to promote understanding of their cultures and story.

Kylie’s generosity, commitment to the College and all it stands for, her commitment to the Edmund Rice charism and to the message of justice in the Gospels drives her work. She is respected by the Parade community for her gentle encouragement and empathy towards and for others, as well as for her ability to encourage and enable others to take action, as she walks beside them. She is the embodiment of the Justice and Solidarity Touchstone.

Thank you for all you do for Edmund Rice education. I wish you a blessed and happy Christmas and a relaxing break.

With every best wish.
Wayne Tinsey
Executive Director
Edmund Rice Education Australia
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