Four outstanding Gold Coast independent school teachers have confirmed their places in the top echelons of Australia’s teaching profession.
The teachers from St Hilda’s School and The Southport School are among the first group of 25 independent school educators to be certified by Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) as Highly Accomplished or Lead Teachers (HALT) - the highest career stages of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.
St Hilda’s School teachers Majda Benzenati (Lead), Sherilyn King (HA), Trent Uebergang (HA) and The Southport School Year 7 teacher Stephanie McQuillan (Lead) join a growing network of high performing Australian teachers. There are currently about 500 HALT-certified teachers nationwide.
Ms Benzenati, who has been a teacher for 22 years, said getting to know her students, building trust and having empathy were central to her teaching approach.
“We succeed at making the greatest impact when we become the architects of our students’ learning and they become the engineers of their learning,” she said.
Ms McQuillan said positive relationships between students, teachers and parents was critical to a child’s learning progress and success.
“As an educator it is so important to build strong connections with your students by taking the time to get to know them and finding out what is important to them. Students need to know they matter and that their contributions matter,” she said.
Independent school teachers seeking national certification undergo a rigorous appraisal of their teaching practice. This includes demonstrating their proficiency against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and undergoing peer and student reviews and classroom observations.
ISQ Executive Director David Robertson congratulated the Gold Coast teachers on their dedication to continually challenging their own teaching practices for the benefit of their students.
“For these leading educators, teaching is their heart’s work. As a state and as a nation we need to recognise outstanding teaching practitioners and work to retain these masters of their craft in the classroom where they can make the greatest difference to student learning and progress,” Mr Robertson said.
The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) works with all certifying authorities, including ISQ, to ensure the benchmark for those being certified is maintained and offered to as many teachers as possible.
AITSL Chief Executive Officer Lisa Rodgers congratulated the sector’s first group of newly certified expert teachers and ISQ for its support of national teacher certification.
Ms Rodgers said the number of nationally certified HALTs had more than doubled from about 250 to almost 500 in the past three years, as momentum builds across the country and particularly from Queensland.
“These talented teachers have proved they are all experts who are having a profound impact on the learning lives of their students and sharing their expertise with their colleagues, and we need to celebrate them,” she said.
“AITSL welcomes all 25 new HALTs into the national HALT network and also congratulates ISQ for making the program available so that together we continue to grow the number of HALTs across Queensland to the benefit of students across the state.”
Image: The Southport School - Stephanie McQuillan