Banishing boredom adds up for maths teacher

Public school educators received nine of 14 scholarships at the Premier’s Teacher Scholarships presentation last night.

Image: Golden opportunity: Bilgola Plateau Public School teacher Julia Priest, left and principal Cindy Gardiner at the awards ceremony last night.

From subtracting boredom in maths classes to the search for the next David Attenborough, nine dedicated NSW public school teachers have won scholarships to explore a passion project.

The 2023 Premier’s Teacher Scholarships were announced last night offering 14 scholarships of up to $15,000.

Among the nine public school winners was Bilgola Plateau Public School teacher Julia Priest who received the Premier’s University of Sydney Mathematics Scholarship.

Ms Priest said winning her scholarship was “a golden opportunity” to banish boredom from the maths classroom.

The day a talented student told her maths was dull was a turning point for the passionate primary teacher.

Intrigued, at his response, Ms Priest then surveyed three Year Five classes at the school.

“To my horror, he was not alone,” she said.

Students were doing well at maths but did not necessarily love it.

If they were doing well without loving the subject, what could they do with passion?

Now, thanks to the $15,000 NSW Premier’s University of Sydney Mathematics Scholarship Ms Priest is determined to “banish boredom from the primary mathematics classroom by giving students a voice”.

She will visit schools with great results or incredible growth in maths to document innovative strategies and hear the thoughts of children.

Ms Priest has an honours degree in science and an MBA and worked in the corporate sector as a strategic planning consultant, before a decade ago retraining as a teacher.

“I wanted to do something for the community,” she said.

“Primary teaching was perfect because I love maths, science, English and art and I can do all that.”

Ms Priest said the scholarship was “a golden opportunity”.

“I was thrilled and excited and leaping around.”

Image: Inquiring minds: Premier Dominic Perrottet, Education Minister Sarah Mitchell and NSW Department of Education Secretary Georgina Harrisson with scholarship recipients last night.

Murwillumbah Learning Community will be celebrating today after two of its teachers were also recognised at the scholarships.

As a recipient of a Premier’s Anika Foundation Youth Depression Awareness Scholarships, high school teacher Peter Howes will examine how to create a human-centred learning environment to ensure every student is known and nurtured as part of his research.

His primary school colleague Joanne Henderson will look at the effective use of technology to improve student agency as part of her Premier’s Education Perfect Technology in Education Scholarship.

The other public school recipients were:

Premier’s Anika Foundation Youth Depression Awareness Scholarships

  • Brianne Balfoort, Kotara School for Specific Purpose
  • Margaret Tang, Putney Public School

Premier’s Geography Scholarship

  • Jaye Dunn, Asquith Girls High School

Premier’s Hicksons Lawyers Health Education and Wellbeing Scholarship

  • Ross Montague, Picnic Point High School

Premier’s NESA Quality Teaching Scholarship

  • Jenny Perry, Campbelltown Performing Arts High School

Premier’s Teachers Mutual Bank Aboriginal Education Scholarship

  • Michelle-Gai Brown, Vincentia High School

Premier’s University of Sydney Mathematics Scholarship

  • Julia Priest, Bilgola Plateau Public School

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