Professionals work alongside students in Science and Arts lessons thanks to this extraordinarily dedicated north Queensland teacher, who has also helped introduce Auslan (Australian Sign Language) at her school. Northern Beaches State High School (NBSHS) receives calls from parents praising teacher Cassandra Little for the difference she is making in their children’s lives. Her dedication to NBSHS students also inspires her colleagues.
Cassie tutors students after school and during her lunch breaks. She makes daily phone calls to parents and carers and spends much of her free time researching new developments in her key areas of learning, to improve her pedagogy and develop engaging resources. Described as “driven, hard-working and professional”, Cassie goes to admirable lengths to help students succeed. When Cassie became aware that a hearing impaired student was having challenges communicating, she took it upon herself to learn Auslan. Her initiative has led to NBSHS and Cassie providing Auslan as part of the school curriculum. The increased use of the language has also had a profound and positive effect for students. NBSHS teacher Murray Burt says Cassie has made a huge contribution to the school. “Last semester she put together—and ran—an AUSLAN course, an Indigenous Art project, a visual art unit on graffiti and a Science unit on dichotomous keys, all involving local professionals coming in and working with the students, and all while teaching a full load and making sets and props for the school’s theatre restaurant in her spare time,” Murray says. “She has led artistic endeavours such as indigenous art and graffiti programs, in which she organised guest speakers from local indigenous and street art collectives to come in and work with her students,” he says. “Cassie has had a profound effect on all of her subject areas in terms of student learning and achievable outcomes. She has rewritten and streamlined many assessment tasks—pre and post— which has seen a remarkable improvement in students’ grades and overall engagement. “Her planning is student-centred and she does not compromise on the high expectations she has for her kids, giving every child the opportunity to excel through varied and engaging lessons.” Cassie’s students are encouraged to ask questions, think outside the box and develop their own approaches to problems. Congratulations Cassie on your nomination.