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Early Years Teacher of the Year

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Peta Tooley

Reception Teacher, Gawler and District College B-12

With some of her young students experiencing disadvantage and at times, trauma, Peta’s classroom places a high emphasis on positive psychology and wellbeing by providing an environment for students to feel safe, relaxed and ready to learn. Mindfulness techniques are used after each play break and incorporated in regular brain breaks throughout the day, while her approach is targeted to every child’s individual needs.

Recognising the transition from pre-school to reception was critical to a student’s overall experience of education, she developed a more effective partnership which sees reception teachers making frequent visits to the local preschool and students participating in shared visits and collaborative play sessions. Peta uses new ways to engage families in their child’s education, bridging the gap between home and school. The results have been overwhelmingly positive with students and their families viewing the move to reception as an exciting change rather than one filled with fear and anxiety.


Anna McGovern

Preschool Teacher/Co-Educational Leader, Craigmore Kindergarten

In the past 3 years, Anna has led the development of an on-site bush kindy. More than 200 seedlings have been planted alongside a frog pond, wetland area, yarning circle, fire pit, bird boxes, bug hotels and a digging patch which have all been created by the hands of the children in collaboration with their educators and their families.

As its founders, the children have a strong sense of belonging with the space, embracing the endless opportunity to learn and explore through nature play while also advancing their wellbeing, literacy and numeracy skills. Dedicated to her staff’s and colleagues’ professional development, Anna regularly works with local educators in maths and numeracy learning and how it can be explored using the pedagogy of nature play.

Rebecca Reeves

Early Years Educator and Learning Coordinator (Reading), Lobethal Primary School

Rebecca hopes her support of outdoor learning will establish her students as proud caretakers of the local park and its surrounding environment. As an early years teacher, she’s helped develop the Bush School Program which connects science and geography lessons with outdoor exploration. For her reception/year one class she established The Nook, which offers both a private space to allow for quiet reflection and activities.

The space provides calming support to students with challenging behaviours as well as a range of learning activities such as reading, sand and water play and cross-age peer play. In her role as a learning coordinator, she invests in students who are capable of excelling by supporting them to extend their skills especially in reading and is also committed to improving her colleague’s professional learning at her site.


Public Education Awards

Phone: 8226 2339
Emailpubliceducationawards [at] sa.gov.au