Rachael Heritage is a teacher whose presence has been felt throughout Allora P-10 State School. She’s worked tirelessly and collaborated with others to overcome challenges for all students including those who are challenged by disability. She’s studied to become the school’s Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) Coach, applying the strategies throughout and supporting staff with behaviour management issues. She is a constant fixture in school and community events.
Yet fellow teacher Brett Hay cites one major factor that defines her as a teacher. “First and foremost, she will have a solid, working relationship with all of the students in her class, so that students will feel they can speak to Miss Heritage should the need arise. She will work one-on-one with students to support them, and have daily contact with parents if necessary,” Brett says. Rachael gets the best out of her students with various activities, audio-visual resources for visual learners, construction activities for hands-on learners and text to develop reading and higher-order thinking skills for all. Like all classrooms, there is a wide range of abilities amongst students, requiring differentiation. An advanced group of students have a book club, run with minimal guidance, where the themes and issues in the novel are discussed. Reluctant writers are encouraged and nurtured to produce pieces from narratives to scientific reports using digital programs on iPads. “Her students have smiles on their faces because they enjoy learning under her guidance. Her relaxed, highly purposeful, demeanour ensures that students are working and achieving to the best of their ability,” Brett says. Attendance in her class is well above 90 per cent. Rachael completed extensive training to perform as PBL Coach and advises staff on processes and protocols. Using data, she keeps track of behaviour issues and targets areas that need attention. She works hard to promote the benefits of the teaching approach. She also received training to commence Functional Behaviour Assessment (FBA) of students demonstrating behaviour issues. Because of this she can now work with class teachers and put in place strategies that help and support them. Rachael has also recently undertaken the challenging ‘Taking The Lead’ initiative designed by the Department of Education for teachers aspiring to become principals in regional areas. Rachael is one teacher who quite literally is at all school activities including sporting events, musical performances, and fund-raising ventures. Regularly in communication with parents via a variety of methods, she is on a first-name basis with them all. “Her students consistently speak of the positivity that time [in] her classroom instils, even those who are now ex-students: proof that young lives and young minds have been enhanced and moved with guidance and wisdom from a brilliant teacher.” Congratulations Rachael on your nomination.