Inspirational teacher honoured

Tara De Paoli with Belinda McKellar.

Tara De Paoli lays the credit for her academic and life successes at the feet of one of her teachers at Wade High School.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) at ANU last December she nominated Belinda McKellar for the ANU Prize for Excellence in Secondary Teaching.

This award was introduced at the university to acknowledge the contribution outstanding teachers make in shaping the lives of the future generation.

Ms McKellar taught Tara English from Year 7-12, as well as history in Year 7 and 8.

Part of Tara's nomination read: "Ms McKellar was the most inspirational teacher I have ever had the honour of studying under.  Her passion for teaching and genuine kindness to her students is what I consider the most influential trait this woman possesses ... The defining feature that sets Ms McKellar apart from other teachers is the fact she always challenged me ... She inspired me to achieve, just through the simple fact that she genuinely  believed in me. That in itself is a very unique and special gift."

When told she was one of six recipients nationally to receive the ANU prize, Ms McKellar was "chuffed" once she got over the shock.

Ms McKellar and Tara said the award was a testament to the excellence of regional public education.

"I began my teaching career at Wade High, where I ultimately taught for 23 years, punctuated by two stints as an Australian Volunteer Abroad in the Cook Islands," Ms McKellar said.

"I have also worked as an Aboriginal and multicultural consultant and worked with adult ESL students at Griffith TAFE.

"Now as a regional literacy consultant I provide professional learning for other teachers in schools across the Riverina region."

An added bonus of winning the award was it gave Ms McKellar the chance to catch up with her past student and attend her graduation, where Ms McKellar was presented with her award.

"This award reflects how Tara values retaining connections with her rural community - and her former teacher. In this she exemplifies her schools motto 'Towards a Better World'," Ms McKellar said.

Photo: Tara De Paoli and Belinda McKellar. Photo supplied by Belinda McKellar.

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