When Cherie Grace started teaching a composite Year 3/4 class in Term 3, 2016 at Darra State School, she quickly earned the respect of her peers. Teacher-Librarian Jennifer Brosnan says, “After she had completed her internship at Darra State School, it was obvious that she was more than capable and her positive and enthusiastic approach would be a real asset”. Cherie understands the need to holistically understand every one of her students by building strong relationships with each of them. She links student learning to what interests them and what is relevant to their lives. Recognising the need for students to have real life experiences to connect to classroom learning, she organised an excursion for two classes to a zoo, with great success. Cherie creates engaging lessons in a safe, nurturing environment, using a variety of resources from dancing and music to interactive whiteboards.
Using interviews, testing, One School and the school’s data she constructs a profile on each of her students. The profiles are constantly evolving as the students’ make their way through the year and Cherie uses these to differentiate her teaching. A rigorous planner and collaborator, Cherie regularly amends her teaching practices when she identifies where they can be more effective. Cherie constantly reflects on practice and engages in professional learning including academic reading, participating in WOW (watching others work) sessions, cluster moderation, peer discussion, networking, development sessions and external professional development opportunities. As part of the school’s Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) team, she works closely with the internal coach to set up the PBL program at Darra State School. Having recognised the need to develop her own behaviour management skills and to improve behaviour management across the school as a whole, Cherie has participated in courses focussed on this. As a PBL team member, Cherie was charged with creating a mascot for the school. This involved learning what is involved, finding a designer and communicating with the school community as a whole to choose one together. She also built anticipation with several presentations at school assemblies. “She works very well with all staff and is willing to not only take on and implement new ideas but confidently share her own,” Jennifer says. She works with the P&C and represents the school at Darra Street festival, discos, morning teas and open days. For Under 8’s day Cherie suggested that past students from the local high school come and help out, organised two activities and decorated the learning space to create a festive air. Cherie communicates regularly with parents via parent-teacher interviews, information sessions and a classroom newsletter every term. Where special support is required, she will meet with parents additionally. She also opens up her classroom early in the morning to allow parents to interact with her. Cherie greets each student personally every day and checks in on how they are feeling throughout. Congratulations Cherie on your nomination.