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Sam O'Leary


Imagine completing a science assessment, but you were able to show your results in a way that suited your particular unique strengths and creative inclinations. Imagine a teacher who inspired you to work on the weekend, even when you didn’t need to. Imagine a teacher who made travel accessible to all students through a virtual reality program.

The students in Sam O’Leary’s Year 4 class at St Martin’s Catholic Primary School don’t have to imagine, because this is the daily practice in their classroom.

Sam O’Leary is committed to building a relationship with each child in his class and his dedication to excellence in teaching ensures they strive for success. It’s not often that you witness Year 4 students engaging in feedback discussions with their teacher using Microsoft Teams, but that is exactly how Sam works – in innovative and inspiring ways.

Sam is dedicated to the life of his school. Sam’s extracurricular commitments have included coaching the Touch Football and Cross Country teams (yearly), running and supervising the Technology Club (weekly), and mentoring other teachers, including at other schools, through the use of Teams during COVID-19.

He is extremely passionate about each student being given opportunities to show their unique talents and has invested years into planning, preparing and supporting students through Wakiri, Optiminds, Wonders of Science Challenges and currently the Tournament of the Minds. Fellow teacher Nicole Russo says these extra opportunities for his students contribute to the school's level of engagement in the community.

“As a teacher within the school setting, he works hard to build a sense of community regularly organising wellbeing activities, lunch time alternative options for students and fitness classes before school,” Nicole says.

“In fact, during COVID Sam videoed exercise videos, read aloud to students online, phone called all his families, video called his students each day, conducted reading groups online daily, set online tasks and provided feedback, organised online dress up days, online quizzes and more. During COVID he was present with his students each day and made the transition to home school learning seamless.”

In 2019, Sam supported and facilitated a program that was a finalist in the Australian Educator Awards ‘Best Wellbeing Program’ and in 2020, Sam again supported and facilitated a program that was a finalist in the Australian Educator Awards, this time in the category ‘Best STEM Program’.

Nicole attests to the magnitude of his efforts: “This also means Sam is often at school early, home late in the afternoons and working on weekends. But it is not a chore for him, it is something he is extremely passionate about.”

Congratulations Sam on being shortlisted for the TEACHX Excellence in Teaching Award.

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