The Alliance is pleased to announce two winners of this years Roslyn Otzen Award for Exceptional Teaching. Each year we are impressed by the high quality of the nominations showcasing the dedication and expertise of educators at girls’ schools, and as such there are two awardees for 2022, both who happen to be delivering excellence in STEM education.
Established in honour of Alliance founder and former president Dr Roslyn Otzen, The Roslyn Otzen Award for Exceptional Teaching recognises outstanding women and men who have made a significant contribution to teaching in a girls’ school.
ABOUT THE WINNERS
Freya said that receiving the award was highly unexpected.
“It was such a surprise to be nominated by my colleague, and even more so to actually win. I feel very honoured. I am also very pleased that the importance of girls and women in STEM is being recognised by the Alliance and that the important work being done at Kambala to promote STEM skills is being seen. I hope that we can continue to grow the STEM program to benefit more and more of our girls,” commented Freya.
“I have been teaching for 13 years, and began my career in the UK as a science teacher at an inner city school in Bristol. I moved to Australia in 2014 with my partner and was lucky enough to get a science teacher job at The Scots College and subsequently at Cranbrook School. In 2019 I moved to Kambala and into my current role where I also teach Psychology and TOK in the IB.”
“I have learnt a lot in the STEM role, both about school wide strategy and about STEM itself, and have really enjoyed both working with girls on their vision for STEM, but also taking on a more ‘whole school’ role,” she said.
When she joined Kambala as Head of STEM, Freya began to map opportunities across faculties in which STEM could be embedded into programs across a range of disciplines. Her aim was to ensure that STEM skills could be translated to departments other than traditional STEM subjects as well as within Maths, Science and Technology. From this she has developed numerous projects ranging across the Senior and Junior School. To execute each of these programs she has worked with colleagues to research, develop and deliver them, and then evaluate them in order to build on their success each year.
Freya recognised that in order to truly embed STEM within the curriculum, it would be necessary to have individuals within departments who were responsible for this. She then campaigned for two STEM Champions (in History and English) whose role it was to develop STEM opportunities within their own departments but also at a cross departmental level. From the success of this pilot program in 2020-2021 Kambala has now appointed a third Champion in PDHPE who will take over the running of the Biomechanics PDHPE/STEM project Freya had started and a position will also be created in the Junior School, both to begin in 2022. Furthermore, the success of projects that have been run across History and English has led to more departments becoming involved and an aim of the STEM Champions for 2022 is to embed projects across more faculties and year groups.
In addition, Freya has initiated a number of STEM initiatives across the school to engage both staff and students across year levels, such as:
Mission to Mars for Year 7
Bridge Building for Year 8
Week of Inspirational Maths for Year 7 and 8
Year 9 Innovation and Design
- Embedding STEM into Year 9 Speculative Fiction studies
- STEM clubs across the school
- Women in STEM forum
- STEM Industry Immersion program
Worked with UTS in to implement Engineering as part of the HSC offering at Kambala
Tara was nominated by her principal and colleagues and said that receiving the award was an unexpected honour
“Strengthening engagement in STEM and partnering with institutes and industries focused on supporting Women in STEM leads to great outcomes for our students. As a former researcher (biochemistry and molecular biology), a lifelong learner/ avid reader and someone who pretty much just loves science and stories, becoming a teacher was one of the most rewarding decisions I’ve made in my life,” said Tara.
“I have always been interested in how disciplines intersect and was fortunate to teach VCE Chemistry and Biology, Science, and English at The Mac.Robertson Girls High School and also coordinated a Year 9 interdisciplinary Mission to Mars program during my time there.”
“I am now exploring science narratives and sustainable futures in my role as a VCE Chemistry/ Science teacher and Head of Science at Melbourne Girls Grammar School. The programs I’m involved in aim to meaningfully connect disciplines and provide creative curricular and co-curricular opportunities for students in the girls’ school environment, and I appreciate the broad recognition of such initiatives by both MGGS and the Alliance. Some of the best learning I’ve done in my career has been a direct result of working alongside my colleagues and students, whose enthusiasm drives the thriving STEM culture I see at MGGS and beyond,” she said.
Tara is an educational leader Melbourne Girls Grammar who inspires both her students and her teacher team members to achieve excellence in science education. Over the past few years, both at Melbourne Girls Grammar and The Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School, she has led innovations, demonstrated leadership, and introduced scholarly approaches through a range of projects, including leading the:
- Introduction of a new Year 10 Science core subject for all students
Professional learning for staff in contemporary Science education theories
Curriculum mapping and documentation of the Science learning area from Year 5 to Year 12.
In her role at Melbourne Girls’ Grammar, Tara has worked to increase the breadth of science curricular and co-curricular offerings at the school. These include the introduction of STEM Captains on the Student Executive Council from 2022, the introduction of a STEM Auxiliary within our parent community to engage with our student leaders, ‘Girls in STEM’ community education events that have been run in conjunction with the school research institute, A Science Talent Search competition, International Competitions, various Year 10 enhancement projects, The Science Olympiad, The Junior Science Olympiad, ICAS Competitions, and the Big Science Competition.
These initiatives have resulted in a marked increase in engagement and student choice of science in their academic studies. Specifically, this has resulted in:
- 50% increase in Year 10 students picking multiple elective science subjects in 2022
- 100% increase in VCE Unit 1&2 Physics classes for 2022
- 25% increase in VCE Unit 1-4 Biology classes for 2022.
Additional details on the projects and initiatives undertaken by both Freya and Tara will shortly be available in our Research Library.