OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO SCHOOL COMMUNITY
An inspirational principal driving educational change on Cape York, helping students achieve outstanding attendance and academic improvement, is a finalist in state awards.
Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy (CYAAA) Hope Vale Campus students have achieved some of the peninsula’s highest attendance rates and have gained year levels in academic achievement under Glenn White’s leadership.
Mr White works tirelessly to empower communities to support educational change alongside him. He has encouraged teacher aides from the community to take up greater training, including studying to become registered teachers. And he is known for doing whatever is needed: covering classes or working the school grounds. He even gets regularly dunked by a ‘student of the week’ in a bid to drive up attendance.
Mr White’s extraordinary commitment to his community, and the outcomes he has helped achieve as a result, are just some of the reasons he is a finalist for the Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Outstanding Contribution to School Community Award.
Mr White, who is also a member of the rural fire brigade, said Hope Vale was a “really thriving and progressive” community.
“It’s a community that has really strong educators within it that are helping me with my job of promoting the importance of education,” Mr White said. “They want to be a community known for its successes.”
Students have achieved an 85 per cent attendance rate this year, acknowledged by Queensland’s Department of Education as one of the highest on the Cape.
As well has having an attendance wheel, which the “principal’s student of the week" spins on Friday and it somehow lands regularly on “Dunk the principal”, Mr White has set up attendance Olympics, in which Hope Vale’s streets have been turned into countries. In a bid to win gold, students are enthusiastically encouraging their siblings and neighbours to attend.
Mr White said he and campus staff had developed an explicit improvement agenda for the school with four pillars: literacy and numeracy, high quality teaching, attendance and student wellbeing.
CYAAA uses Direct Instruction to teach literacy and numeracy. Campuses also teach local language and have ‘Club and Culture’ daily. High student expectations are integral to teaching.
“My proudest achievement is obviously that the majority of our kids are working now at grade level – that's just been a massive achievement and that's purely just down to the teachers believing the kids can succeed and the community supporting attendance,” Mr White said.
He said working in Cape York communities had been “the most rewarding experience”.
“I've spent nearly a quarter of my life now living and working up here and I don't regret a single moment of it. The enriching experience that you get, the cultural inclusion that you get to see, the rawness of Cape York – it's just amazing to be so engrossed in it, so involved, so included,” Mr White said.
Winners of the TEACHX Awards will be announced on October 28, on the eve of World Teachers’ Day celebrations in Queensland. Finalists win $500, and winners $5000, for professional development.