Already recognised as one of the nation’s most inspirational teachers, Rockhampton’s Wendy Goldston has a passion for providing students with transformative experiences that has seen her named as a finalist in state teaching awards.
The Frenchville State School (FSS) teacher is a finalist in the Queensland College of Teachers inaugural Innovation in Teaching TEACHX Award. In 2016 she was selected as one of ten OfficeMax ‘A Day Made Better’ Award winners out of 30,000 teachers nationwide.
In her third decade as a teacher, Mrs Goldston was chosen to create and run a ‘one-of-a-kind’ extension and enrichment program for Years 3 to 6, which she called BLOOM: Bringing Learning Opportunities to Outstanding Minds. Every term the BLOOM classroom is redesigned and redecorated to reference new themes for both Literacy and Numeracy. Mrs Goldston supports this through playing her own dramatic roles, including being ‘Goldy’, an ice-cream van owner, for Numeracy, and the Amazon safari guide ‘Rain Forest’ for Literacy.
BLOOM greatly challenges students in a unique way. All learning occurs in context, it prepares them for the 21st century and it’s changing students’ mindsets. Mrs Goldston, who shares a remarkable rapport with her students, wants to inspire them.
“Always be the best that you can be. My Mum instilled that in me,” Wendy said. “We all encounter struggles and issues throughout our lives that we actually have to strive for.”
A teacher from Wendy’s formative years left his mark. Her Year 7 teacher, Mr Green, made his room come alive. Mrs Goldston said Mr Green “was very geography-based and so we learnt an enormous amount about places in the world”. “So that has inspired me to open [up] the world for children who I am teaching as well; make them realise the world is such a big place and has a lot to offer, and it personally inspired me to travel as well,” she said.
He was “interested in us as learners” too. As a teacher now, she views children in her class as individual learners. “If my class has 27 children, I’ve got 27 permutations and combinations to the way I’m teaching,” she said.
One hundred per cent of BLOOMers have maintained or attained a very high level of achievement in Mathematics and English and they are also being inspired to be effective global citizens. They’ve adopted two orphan orangutans and hosted a Make A Difference (MAD) fundraiser which raised over $2,500 for a well in India and livestock for communities in Africa and Asia.
For Wendy, the biggest reward is the relationships she builds with her students and the wonderful support she gets from their parents.
“I got a message last night from a past student. He’s in his early 30s now and he said ‘Oh Mrs G, I’ve just travelled the world. I’ve finally seen all those amazing things that you taught me about and every time I’ve gone somewhere…I’ve gone “thank you” because I only know about those things because of you’.” As a finalist, Wendy received $500 for professional development.