Every week, Grace Watson makes five positive contacts with one of her students’ parents or carers, to recognise great behaviour, effort or achievement. The Whitsunday’s St Catherine’s Catholic College Year 7, 10 and 12 teacher sometimes travels more than an hour just to support her students at sporting events to further build positive relationships. “Grace is a passionate believer and advocate that relationships must come before true academic progress is achieved,” Grace’s nomination states.
The Mathematics, Biology and Science teacher works hard to provide real-world applications in her lessons that allow for differentiation and curiosity in learning. Students in her class create goals at the beginning of each term and reflect weekly on whether they are on track to reach their goal. Student success and improvement is celebrated. “As a Year 7 Core teacher for the past two years, alongside colleagues she has developed and enhanced the teaching and learning programs in Pastoral Care, Maths and Science, which have allowed for cross-subject links, targeted support, and well-planned lessons and activities that challenge and meet the needs of the learners,” Grace’s nomination states. Grace has made an impressive contribution to the school and the Whitsundays community through her charity work with students. She has created a partnership with Antipodeans Abroad and is set to take a group of nine students from Years 8-12 to complete a community service project in Borneo during the September holidays. Grace has also initiated social justice events for students to participate in, including Relay for Life and fundraising for the Cancer Council. “Grace has jumped headfirst into whatever challenges she can get her hands on,” her nomination states. This includes taking on the role of her school’s Youth Engagement Officer, beginning a successful youth group and mentoring two Indigenous students. Grace has completed extensive professional development to better inform her teaching, including game-based learning, trauma-informed care, teaching students with autism and social and emotional disorders, increasing student mastery in Australian Curriculum Mathematics and numeracy in Years 7 to 10, and providing effective feedback. Congratulations Grace on your nomination.