Remember that teacher who told you what made you different made you special? Or the one who spent that little extra time with you to perfect your slam dunk? Or the one who opened your eyes to other kids out there, who wanted to go to school, but just couldn’t, and so you wanted to help them? These inspiring teachers are the unsung heroes of our community, and A Day Made Better wants to sing a tune of recognition for them.

Over 39,000 nominations and 10 primary and secondary teachers were recognised for their impact on students, families and the broader community. Here are their stories.

View 2016 Winners
Melanie Smith
“Mel puts 100% into her teaching, it’s beyond the classrooms or saying hello in the hall, it's doing everything possible in her power to get everyone through in whatever way possible. She gives up her out of class time to meet with students that are struggling and motivates them to keep working towards their goals. I've never met a teacher so dedicated, loving, accepting or kind. She makes students feel comfortable and takes an interest in their lives, acknowledging the impact of home circumstances and helps to work around student's individual struggles. She shares her own books for students to read and works tirelessly to help us to make our work the best standard we can. She is cheery and bubbly, and is an asset to the school faculty.”
Edison Harris
Petrina Cummins
“Petrina is an outstanding teacher who inspires all around her. Her love for her job and the children she teaches shines through everyday. She is committed, passionate and determined to make each child feel loved, valued and worthy. Petrina ensures her students believe in themselves and gives them courage to take risks. She is there for the good and bad times always giving her support.”
Rebecca Drury
Jim Bailey
"When I arrived from Sweden as an exchange student in August, Mr Bailey made sure that I felt welcomed. Even on my bad days, he made the school to an exciting place and something to look forward to. When I left that school in January without notice, I felt really guilty about not thanking Mr Bailey for everything, because when you are on the other side of the world without your family, someone who just says good morning to you everyday and who remembers your birthday is a huge deal. I have had so many teachers throughout my life, but Mr Bailey really is, the worlds greatest teacher. It's obvious that he enjoys his work and it's so obvious that all of his students enjoys having him as a teacher. He motivated me to do something really great with my life and to not give up and I'm so grateful"
Emilia Trennsby
Ana Prior
"Ana is a great teacher who goes above and beyond to support her students. She looks for unique ways to teach students who may not learn in the conventional way and is always in contact with parents to let you know she has noticed something, whether it is something that needs working on or something they are doing well. As a parent you couldn't ask for a better teacher. We have been fortunate to have Ana teach our son a couple of years."
Julie Tatlow
Elle Boller
“Ms Boller makes everyone's day brighter and fun. Ms Boller is a very generous person and gives her own time to people who need help which is amazing. Ms Boller is a GREAT mentor teacher. Ms Boller always has a way to fix things. Ms Boller Is such a great and supportive teacher and very self less. Ms Boller is the best teacher and makes everyday of the week better for me!!!!.”
Angel Kavaliku
Alicia Taylor
"Alicia celebrates my child’s difference and ensures that he feels included. Ethan has a hearing impairment & uses an FM System to assist with his hearing. The class affectionately refers to the system as “Roger”. Alicia has facilitated Ethan & a teacher for the deaf giving a powerpoint presentation to the class about his hearing loss & what the kids can do to help him hear better. Alicia organised for Ethan’s other teachers to wear Roger, & she continues to encourage the kids to happily embrace wearing Roger each time they tell news to the class. Through the steps Alicia takes, Ethan is included in all class activities in the most educationally, emotionally & socially rewarding way. The class also benefits by understanding the difficulties experienced by people with hearing loss."
Alison Wallace
Helen Dawes
"Helen Dawes puts in some much time and effort into the school. Her organisational skills continually supports the school community. Her artistic talent has helped the school develop a cultural identity and beautify the school grounds. She has designed and painted murals throughout the school, helped with uniform changes and logo placement. Her work with co-ordinating the school and students is amazing and helps make our school what it is today. Her years of service to the entire community should be rewarded. From Welcome Breakfasts, to Arts night , Christmas Concerts and Graduation celebrations , Helen Dawes is incredibly adept at coordinating these events to run smoothly. Respected and loved by parents, staff and especially students. She is an amazing asset to the school community."
Bronwyn Tong
Bridgette Afuie
"Bridgette has changed so many of her students’ lives in and out of the classroom as our dance teacher. When you're in her class, it's not all about grades or passing, it's about growth and development and learning and life. I wouldn't be half the dancer nor student I am without Bridgette's constant care and positive attitude towards my learning and the amount of time and dedication she puts into all of her students. Bridgette truly cares about her students and not just their learning, but also our emotional and mental wellbeing, constantly checking in with every single one of us every time she sees us to make sure we're doing okay. She deserves this award more so than any teacher I've ever met."
Genny Slade-Nafoi
Ku Lacey
"Mrs Lacey is an amazing teacher, I learn a lot of useful techniques from her in class. I believe she is a phenomenal teacher as she provide her knowledge and understanding to all of the students in our class. No matter what your leaning ability is Mrs Lacey will adapt to that and teach as necessary. I believe Mrs Lacey should be nominated because she deserves to be recognised for all the hard work she puts into our learning."
Abigail Hills
Tracey Byrne
"Tracey is my teacher at Narara Valley High School.
She is such a great help for all of us at our young parents program she goes above and beyond for all of us, works long hours and integrates her other classes providing hands on work experience for her other students.

She has given me a great opportunity to provide a better future for myself and my children by creating a safe learning environment for myself and fantastic crèche for my children where she tries hard to get the funding it needs and invests her own money into it also.

I am very grateful for Tracey and all of her support for me and wouldn't be where I am without her help."
Jessica Andrews

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