As published in The Educator Australia.
Helen Stower, Teacher Librarian and Program Leader of the iCentre at Mount Alvernia College in Queensland is the inaugural winner of the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia’s Roslyn Otzen Award for Exceptional Teaching.
Her goal of bringing literature into the life of teenage girls and the initiatives she put in place to achieve this won her the attention of the judging panel.
Launched in October 2018, the initiative is the first of its kind in Australasia to focus on girls’ education.
By sharing the teaching practices and programs of inspirational teachers and placing their achievements in the spotlight, the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia (Alliance) aims to raise awareness for the unparalleled opportunities girls’ schools provide for girls and young women and the incredible work our teachers are doing.
Loren Bridge, executive officer at the Alliance said it was vital to acknowledge the importance of great teachers is in the work they do to inspire students, colleagues and communities.
“We’re delighted to recognise their achievements and commitment to educating girls through this award, and to show our appreciation for the work they do and the difference they make to their students, their schools and the wider community,” Bridge said.
Award winner Helen Stower said she was passionate about improving girls’ engagement with books for two specific reasons.
“The first is that vast research into the impact of reading beyond curriculum offerings concludes that it improves academic and social outcomes,” Stower said.
“The second is that when I read books and articles about people who have achieved great things in their lives and careers, they repeat a common message – storytelling is a key ingredient to success.”
Stower said that through books, the school’s girls will experience great stories she hopes will translate into an ability to tell their own stories in life.
“I was overwhelmed to learn that I am the inaugural recipient of Roslyn Otzen Award for Exceptional Teaching,” she said.
“I absolutely love teaching girls and think school libraries play a very special role in education, it is certainly a career highlight for the Alliance of Girls’ Schools to commend my work as a teacher librarian.”
Roslyn Otzen, Alliance founder and former president of the Alliance, and after whom the award was named, said that great teachers in girls’ schools bring out a unique strength in their students.
“The teachers’ example is not merely in how and what they teach, but in their encouragement for girls to seize all that the world has for them, unafraid and filled with enthusiasm,” Otzen said.