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Top Kiwi teachers win big for digital empowerment

06 Apr 2017

Three teachers have been recognised as the country’s top digital learners.

The top three participants of Unitec’s The Mind Lab programme receive a prestigious award. 

The Next Foundation Expert Teacher Award celebrates teachers who are committed to broadening their skillset to help their students gain the skills needed for 21st Century careers.

From the Mind Lab's postgraduate certificate in applied practise (digital and collaborative learning), top learners were awarded with the Next Foundation Expert Teacher Award. The award includes a $5000 scholarship.

Matt Dalton, from the November 2015 intake, received the award. Dalton is the deputy principal of Rotorua Boys’ High School. 

From the 2016 intake, recipients Kate Gifford-Maposua and Susannah Fowler shared the award. They were jointly awarded the scholarship to reflect their teamwork throughout the programme.

Kate Gifford-Maposua and Susannah Fowler are both from The Gardens School in Auckland, working as the deputy principal and principal respectively.

The three education leaders were celebrated at a recent ceremony alongside 366 fellow teachers from the November 2015 and March 2016 cohorts.

Dalton says winning the award is a humbling experience and the results he has seen in his classroom and across the school from the other teachers who are participating in this programme are remarkable.

“The Mind Lab’s postgraduate programme was a valuable opportunity to reflect on and develop my teaching practise and leadership. I cultivated new ideas through collaboration and challenged pre-conceived ideas about what I believed education to be,” he says.  

Fowler comments, "we are on a journey with our entire staff to prepare for our brand new school, opening in November.”

“The Mind Lab fitted perfectly in assisting with pedagogical change, strengthening collaboration between teachers and students. We thank the generous support of NEXT Foundation and the team at The Mind Lab," she adds.

Gifford-Maposua says that, with so many teachers involved in the course, her school has significantly enhanced the level of professional discussion and created energy and enthusiasm for their future.

“The Mind Lab has made a large contribution towards our teachers embracing a truly collaborative environment,” she adds.

The winners were selected from six finalists through an interview process. Frank Janssen of Next Foundation led the interviews and is impressed with the significant leadership and strategic journeys the winners demonstrate.

Other finalists were Anne Bissland from Christchurch’s Rangi Ruru Girls’ High School (previously Papanui High School), Aisling Browne and Sheree Barker from Gisborne’s Campion College, Grace Williams from Whangarei Girls’ High School, and Kirstin Anderson-McGhie from Auckland’s Oteha Valley School.

Janssen highlights the winners' achievements within their respective schools through the implementation of 21st century pedagogy.

He says, “their forward-thinking approach shows these leaders have the foresight, determination and strategic vision to prepare their students for the new world in a truly collaborative way."

Frances Valintine, founder and chair of The Mind Lab by Unitec, congratulates the winners and finalists and is pleased to see that both leaders and teachers from all over the country were recognised.

She thanks the Next Foundation for its ongoing commitment in supporting and investing in The Mind Lab’s aspirations.

She adds, “our partnership with Next Foundation shares a vision to provide all Kiwis with the skills and confidence to embrace the opportunities of a globalised world.”

“The digital and collaborative skills our teachers gain through our postgraduate programme empower young people – our future leaders – equipping them for the jobs of the future.”

The Next Foundation plans to invest $100 million over the next ten years. In 2016, the foundation provided 1350 scholarships that allow public school teachers to participate in The Mind Lab’s programme.

Over the next five years The Mind Lab aims to reach over 10,000 teachers and 180,000 school students.

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