National honour for STEM leader

Renowned STEM educator Scott Sleap has been awarded a prestigious national teaching fellowship.

27 March 2020
Scott Sleap
Image: Dr Scott Sleap - "I have never been so proud to be a public school teacher within the NSW Department of Education."

Dr Sleap is among 12 Australian teachers and principals to be awarded fellowships in the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards, which aim to celebrate and reward educators' inspiring practice that particularly helps to address educational disadvantage.

Dr Sleap said he was honoured to be recognised for his work with the Cessnock Academy of STEM Excellence and as deputy principal of Cessnock High School.

"This year these awards take on a new significance for me, as the teaching profession has never faced such an overwhelming challenge, " he said.

"My colleagues have been working tirelessly developing new resources, learning new teaching techniques and supporting students in many different ways to ensure their needs are being met. "

The annual Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards, run in partnership with national charity Schools Plus, provides a $45,000 fellowship to the recipients, which includes $10,000 to support professional development, $25,000 for a major school project to improve outcomes for students and an overseas visit to a high-performing education system.

Dr Sleap's award citation said he was a great example to students in the NSW Hunter region that science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) can be a pathway to brilliance.

Originally an industrial arts teacher, Dr Sleap completed a PhD in engineering at the University of Newcastle where he is now a conjoint senior lecturer.

As Deputy Principal at Cessnock High School, he has had enormous impact where his Academy of STEM Excellence is attributed with engaging students' interest in STEM, cutting suspension rates and lifting attendance. In 2019, his Academy model was delivered in 65 schools in five regional centres across NSW.

Another of Dr Sleap's projects – STEM Industry Schools Partnership (SISP) – in which schools partner with industry to mentor and inspire students, is being rolled out across the state.

"It is highly rewarding as a teacher to develop programs which have such a positive impact on students. I am privileged to do what I do, and I am driven by the knowledge that I make a difference, " Dr Sleap said.

In 2018 Dr Sleap received the Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching.

Nathan Barker, Head of Community Investment at Commonwealth Bank said: "It's been an extremely challenging start to the year for educators across the country, so with greater reason today, we recognise those who go above and beyond for their students every day. "

The 2020 Teaching Fellows are:

  • Scott Sleap, Deputy Principal at Cessnock High School, NSW
  • Jacklyn Roberts, Principal at Bakewell Primary School, NT
  • Chris Buswell, Higher Order Thinking Coach, STEM Coordinator Teacher at Mountain Creek State High School, QLD
  • Jay Page, Technology Specialist and Pedagogy Coach at Goodna State School, QLD
  • Sharon Case, Head of Teaching and Learning at Mossman State School, QLD
  • Wendy Goldston, Teacher, Program Coordinator at Frenchville State School, QLD
  • Julie Murphy, Principal at Elizabeth Vale Primary School, SA
  • Scott Dirix, Senior Leader of Alternative Programs at Salisbury East High School, SA
  • Warren Symonds, Principal at Mount Barker High School, SA
  • Jennie Vine, Assistant Principal at Wooranna Park Primary School, VIC
  • Matthew Knight, Principal at Cobram Primary School, VIC
  • Lisa Young, Teacher at South Kalgoorlie Primary School, WA

Rosemary Conn, Chief Executive Officer of Schools Plus said: These 12 new Teaching Fellows embody the commitment of Australia's educators to our students. We welcome them to the Fellowship and look forward to giving them a platform to share their practice and ideas on how to change the lives of students, particularly those who are most in need. "

Two previous Department of Education fellows, Yasodai Selvakumaran (2018) and Eddie Woo (2017), went on to be named in the top 10 teachers in the world as part of the $US1 million Global Teacher Prize.

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