Educators recognised for outstanding leadership

Five NSW public school leaders have been recognised at the 2023 NSW Australian Council for Educational Leadership Awards.

A photo of a woman. A photo of a woman.
Image: Robyn Pemberton was recognised for her contribution to public education with an ACEL individual leadership award.

NSW public school leaders were among the winners of the 2023 Australian Council for Educational Leadership (ACEL) Awards announced at a ceremony in Sydney on Friday 4 August.

The awards honour educational leaders who have made a significant contribution to education, educational leadership and the improvement of child or student learning outcomes, teacher professional practice and/or effectiveness.

Three NSW public school leaders were recognised for their contribution to education with individual leadership awards.

Principal of Ulladulla High Denise Lofts was recognised for her advocacy for students with disability, research into rural education and support for other principals.

“I feel very honoured to be recognised by my peers, and it is terrific to celebrate educational leadership in all its complexity,” she said.

Denise said a great leader knew what they stood for and never wavered from that.

“For me, this means fairness, equity, care and believing everyone has potential, no matter what. That is my moral imperative, whether it is for my students, teachers, or community,” she said.

Robyn Pemberton started her career in public education as a secondary TAS/VET teacher in 1995.

She is currently a program leader in the Pathways and Vocational Education Strategy team.

“I have experienced a lot of change over this time and had the privilege to contribute to so many programs that have impacted thousands of students,” she said.

“I’d like to think my greatest achievement is in the opportunities I have helped create for our students, to build strong post-school pathways through undertaking VET courses/programs and school-based apprenticeships and traineeships while still at school.

“It is a significant game changer for students and their families. The impact ripples through families and communities and brings such hope and positivity for the future."

Dale Palmer, the Respectful Relationships Program manager and facilitator at Glenfield Education Office, was also recognised for his contribution to public education.

Tullimbar Public School’s Lauren Cullen was awarded the ACEL NSW Mary Armstrong Award for Early Career Teacher Leadership.

The award is presented to an exceptional educator who has been teaching for less than five years.

“I would love for the community to know that teaching really is a very rewarding career and one that changes every year with the new class that you have in front of you,” Ms Cullen said.

“It is about building relationships and getting to know each student, how they learn, their interests and what makes them tick.

“I love the lightbulb moments when they understand a concept, take a leap into the learning pit and just have a go.”

NSW Department of Education Secretary Murat Dizdar was awarded the Dr Paul Brock Memorial Medal.

ACEL organisers said the medal was recognition of Mr Dizdar’s significant impact on education in NSW, and as a champion for social justice throughout his career as a teacher, school principal and system leader.

“Murat is driven by a desire to ensure educational excellence for all young people,” organisers said.

“He applies intelligence, insight, and integrity to the development of policies that enable schools and systems to support educational achievement and wellbeing for all students.”

A man and a woman on stage. A man and a woman on stage.
Image: NSW Department of Education Secretary Murat Dizdar was awarded the Dr Paul Brock Memorial Medal. He was presented with the award by NSW Education Minister Prue Car.
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