Karen Schilling wins primary school teacher of the year

WINNER: Tintinara Area School teacher Karen Schilling with student Archie.
WINNER: Tintinara Area School teacher Karen Schilling with student Archie.

Tintinara Area School teacher Karen Schilling has won the Credit Union SA Primary Teacher of the Year at the 2019 SA Public Education Awards.

Teachers play an important role in preparing children for adulthood and the award officially recognised the excellence she's displayed over her two decades in the field.

Mrs Schilling was one of 10 category winners announced at an awards ceremony held last Friday at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Along with the brilliant accolade, the win will see her receive $10,000 to go towards professional development.

Tintinara Area School principal Mike Sadleir, who nominated Mrs Schilling for the award, said the win shows that students aren't disadvantaged by the location and size of the school they attend.

"There's a myth at small schools that people lower the bar or make excuses for why they aren't pushing themselves," Mr Sadleir said.

"Karen exemplifies the sort of teacher that puts her heart and soul into her work - she often goes above and beyond what your typical teacher would do because of her love of the craft."

Mr Sadleir said she is a "passionate and diligent educator", who often looks to improve well after many other teachers have finished for the day.

"I don't think there's been a time when she's given herself a proper break, she's always looking to improve -you can tell her to stop and have a break and she will do more," Mr Sadleir said.

He said the time that she spends preparing and her dedication to making her students better is second to none.

A new-look classroom has allowed for her to implement a number of different learning initiatives which have seen her students thrive academically.

At the start of the year, Mrs Schilling will look data from her students using a combination of pre-testing and data from the previous year, which allows for her to set achievable goals for individuals to strive towards.

As part of the process, students are also asked to show where they think they are via the class's 'Bump It Up Wall', which aims to show students what they need to do next in order to move forward with their learning.

She can then see where the student thinks they're at and can guide their learning accordingly.

"The ability to track students' growth is important - it makes me want to come to school each day. Seeing them progress motivates me," Mrs Schilling said.

"Without the use of tracking, I believe students don't understand where they are actually improving."

Mrs Schilling's individual success has proven that students don't need to attend massive metro schools to receive high-quality education.

The highly respected teacher will continue to motivate and inspire the next generation of Tintinara students with her brilliant learning initiatives and willingness to see individual improvement.