Queen’s Birthday Honours for education leaders

Current and former department employees have been named in the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours list.

Image: Jane Simmons, honoured with the Public Service Medal.

Two NSW Department of Education employees have been awarded the Public Service Medal in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours with current and former employees honoured with the Order of Australia Medal.

Jane Simmons, Executive Director Continuity of Education, and Melinda Commens, teacher at Sandon Public School, both received the Public Service Medal which recognises outstanding service from government employees.

Ms Simmons currently oversees the Continuity of Education team responsible for gathering and creating resources to ensure continuity of teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her substantive role as Executive Director School Services, Ms Simmons is responsible for more than 700 staff across the state delivering effective teaching, leadership and wellbeing services to improve student outcomes. She is also the co-executive producer of the Schools Spectacular, the department’s annual variety show featuring more than 5,500 student performers.

Lindy Commens received her award for outstanding public service to education in NSW, particularly to families of children with disability.

Mrs Commens joined the department as a support class teacher in Armidale at Mirambeena School for Specific Purposes, now known as Sandon Public School, where she has worked for the past three decades.

During her career Mrs Commens has made significant contributions to the lives of students with disability and their families and is seen as a great role model for her students and colleagues.

Strathfield Girls High School principal Angela Lyris and Dr Emily Matters, language teacher at North Sydney Girls High School, were awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for their service to education.

Ms Lyris has worked in several school leadership roles over the past 20 years including as supervisor at the Saturday School of Community Languages.

Dr Matters has worked in several schools as a teacher of Latin and Classical Greek, has contributed to HSC Examination Committees and been President of the Classical Languages Teachers Association of NSW on several occasions.

Retired teacher John Deacon received an OAM for his service to performing arts and to education.

Mr Deacon was founding artistic director and producer of Star Struck, a performing arts extravaganza for the Hunter area. He has worked as a puppet maker for the Schools Spectacular and helped coordinate dance festivals.

Former department employees to receive an OAM include retired principals’ Brian Debus for service to primary education, and Susan Lockwood and Nola Younghusband for service to education.

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