Victorian pair receive top maths honours

Outstanding primary teachers named winners at the 2019 Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) Choose Maths Awards.
Oct 23, 2019

A teaching duo has transformed maths and NAPLAN performance in a Victorian primary school and have been named joint Outstanding Primary Teacher winners at the 2019 Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) Choose Maths Awards.

Recognised for their creative approach to strengthening mathematics learning and teaching at Boneo Primary, Liz Dewar and Ryan Jellie will share the $10,000 prize, including $2500 each for professional development and a $5000 funding injection into its mathematics program.

Delivering a significant boost to the school's NAPLAN results, the pair instigated a dramatic transformation at their school that has seen student performance and perception of maths soar.

As well as creative approaches and exciting activities such as setting up a meteorite landing site, the pair has changed student perceptions with a tailored learning approach. Student surveys have revealed the depth their program’s impact. When first surveyed 80% students admitted to hating maths, within 18 months follow up surveys revealed 60% said they now love it.

AMSI Schools Program Manager and Choose Maths Project Director, Janine Sprakel said the panel was blown away by the Boneo Primary School duo and their extraordinary impact on the school community. Liz and Ryan, she said, have transformed not just the school but the whole community.

Janine said Liz and Ryan’s leadership and impact through innovation was particularly impressive They realised it was critical to engage everyone if they were to drive real change for mathematics learning at their school.

“They have pulled off a transformation that has turned around student engagement and changed how maths is taught and learnt,” she said.

Fellow Victorian teacher and sometimes maths song writer, Jess Szalek from Hillsmeade Primary School in Narre Warren was also honoured with a $2000 Excellence Award.

In total three top awards were presented with NSW teacher Louise Puslednik from St Matthews Catholic School in Mudgee taking home the $20,000 Mentoring Girls in Maths award and Walford Anglican School for Girls teacher, Deb Woodard-Knight from SA honoured with the $10,000 Outstanding Secondary Teacher award. $2000 Teacher Excellence Awards were also presented to teachers from the ACT, QLD, SA, and WA.

Judged by a panel of maths education experts, the teacher awards acknowledge educators who demonstrate excellence in leadership, creativity and innovation and the engagement and mentoring of colleagues and students to strengthen outcomes for girls in mathematics. 

Congratulating this year’s student and teacher winners, AMSI Director, Prof Tim Brown said they exemplified the very best of mathematics education.

“This year’s winning teachers are helping equip a generation with the necessary mathematics to thrive in the future where mathematical sciences increasingly underpin any thriving community. Importantly the impacts of their innovation, excellence and passion are felt not only in their own classrooms but across their schools and communities,” said Brown.

“The outstanding student videos show the way mathematics can engage students to produce extraordinary demonstrations of their deep understanding together with their drive to powerfully communicate that to others."?

Teacher Winner List

Excellence Award – Thom Mutton, Daramalan College

Top Winner – Mentoring Girls in Maths – Louise Puslednik, St Matthews Catholic School

Excellence Award – Chris Niven, Sheldon College, QLD

Top Winner – Outstanding Secondary Teacher – Deb Woodard-Knight, Walford Anglican School for Girls
Excellence Award - Diana Agnew, Narcoorte High School

Top Winner – Outstanding Primary Teacher - Elizabeth Dewar & Ryan Jellie, Boneo Primary School
Excellence Award – Jess Szalek, Hillsmeade Primary South

Excellence Award – Melinda Golinski, Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School,
Excellence Award – Samantha Dodras, Churchlands Senior High School
Excellence Award – Kate Petchell, Dowerin District High