Excellence in teaching recognised
She may have only been teaching for five years, but Melinda Elith is already one of the best in the field.
The science and biology teacher at the 40-student Urana Central School, near the Victorian border, has received a 2010 National Excellence in Teaching Award (NEiTA) for Leadership.
She was one of 10 outstanding teachers selected from more than 1000 nominations nationally and one of only two NSW-based winners.
Miss Elith was nominated by the school's Parents and Citizens' Association for her tireless commitment to the students and the local community.
Urana principal Noel Maddern said the community was very aware Miss Elith did much more than just her job.
"Her passion for teaching and her determination to provide opportunities for students is what sets her apart," Mr Maddern said.
Among her main achievements was helping overcome the tyranny of distance for the school's secondary students by embracing the latest technology.
This approach had seen her also take on the role of in-school coordinator for the Riverina Access Partnership where students from several schools received group lessons via video-conferencing.
Miss Elith said she felt "honoured" to be a teacher and play a role in shaping the lives of future generations.
"It is a rewarding career yet also a challenging one," she said. "The differences among students drive me to regularly try new strategies to cater for their needs along with engaging them in the learning process. It becomes an exciting challenge.
"The wonderful part about teaching is that every day is different."
Miss Elith said one of the important things a teacher had to achieve was mutual respect.
"Some of the best moments to build this relationship happen outside of the normal classroom, on excursions or participating in extracurricular activities."
Miss Elith was also appreciative of working in a small school environment, and getting to know the students and their parents personally.
"I would not have been able to achieve what I have without the support of my colleagues and the calibre of the students and parents within the Urana community," Miss Elith said.