Earlier this year Oonoonba State School was significantly flooded, and the school was closed for three weeks. Classes then recommenced in two different locations. The school’s Prep teacher Rowena Petersen had lost thousands of dollars’ worth of resources that she had accumulated in 20 years of teaching and had to start again from nothing. Yet a parent of one of Rowena’s students noted that Rowena made calls of support to her and offers of meals for the family who moved to a rental property and had to have their house rebuilt following the floods. Rowena has also helped out others under similar circumstances.
When that parent's daughter had to have surgery, leading her to miss a total of six weeks of school at such an important developing age. However, Rowena has fostered such a love of learning in the little girl that she is flourishing despite these setbacks. The parent describes Rowena as having a calm, welcoming demeanour and her lessons are well thought out, with students working towards positive behaviour rewards and clearly outlined individual goals. “To her, they are the most important people in the world and to them, she is the centre of the universe along with their families. She treats each child as an individual and works with each student to ensure that every day they continue to be better versions of themselves and are nourished with quality educative experiences that are integrated in a fun and exciting way,” the parent says. Examples include cultivating a garden for science lessons, making sorting hats in particular colours and shapes and making books to read at home. Rowena sees parents as partners in the learning of the students and makes sure they are actively informed. Strategies and progress are passed on, either in person or through the weekly parental newsletter. Rowena participates in professional development and is also mentor to three other Prep teachers. Her generosity is abundant: when donations are requested for themed events and families forget, the Prep teacher makes the donations herself, so her students are part of the events.
“In 15 years of education in Primary, Secondary and Special Education Centres, I have never met a teacher like Mrs Petersen. She deserves recognition as every day she goes above and beyond what is required of her,” says the parent.
“From the moment my daughter met Mrs Petersen, things changed. She now bounds out of bed, dresses herself and is ready for the exciting new day ahead. My daughter has also become more confident and has learnt how to socialise with her peers thanks to the guidance Mrs Petersen has provided. Our daughter every day becomes a better version of herself.” Congratulations Rowena on your nomination.