STEM champion a Global Teacher Prize finalist
Griffith teacher Ian Preston is in line for one of the most prestigious awards in education. Madeline Austin reports.
05 October 2023
A Griffith teacher is among the finalists in the prestigious Global Teacher Prize.
Ian Preston, Deputy Principal of the NSW Virtual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Academy, is in the running for the US$1 million prize that shines a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society.
Mr Preston has a deep passion for helping rural, regional and remote students reach their full potential, and said it was an honour to be recognised for doing what he loved.
“I hope it encourages more people into teaching and, more importantly, public education in rural, regional and remote communities,” he said.
In a 33-year career, Mr Preston’s contributions to public education include involvement in developing ‘telematics’ in regional NSW and establishing the Lachlan Access Program (LAP), which continues to operate today, more than 30 years later.
But it his work with the NSW Virtual STEM Academy, providing STEM enrichment to rural, regional, and remote students through gaming-based software, that has gained Mr Preston global recognition.
The final 50 nominees for the Global Teacher Prize were chosen from more than seven thousand nominations across 130 countries.
Director, Educational Leadership for the Griffith Network, Jayne Gill, said Mr Preston’s nomination was a testament to his dedication to his students and their futures.
“It’s beyond well deserved,” Ms Gill said.
“We’re so lucky to have his invaluable knowledge as a resource for our students.”
Since it was established in 2021, the NSW Virtual STEM Academy has grown from eight students, to 253 students in 2022, and a projected 500 students in 2023. It now includes 27 schools across the state.
Mr Preston received an Excellence in Teaching Award from the NSW Education Minister in 2021, and last year, he was recognised with a Commonwealth Bank Teaching Fellowship and the 2022 Premier’s Prize for Innovation in STEM Teaching in NSW.
He said a career highlight was the opportunity to give students from all backgrounds, particularly those in regional, rural and remote communities, a fair go at getting a quality education.
“The recognition inspires me to continue in the profession and continue to provide educational equity to public education students,” he said.
“My work is not finished yet. I have so much more I want to achieve.”