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Tambellup Primary School stalwart gains national nod at Teacher of the Year Awards

Harry GrigsonGreat Southern Herald
Tambellup Primary School teacher's aide Kathryn Collins.
Camera IconTambellup Primary School teacher's aide Kathryn Collins. Credit: Harry Grigson/Great Southern Herald

Tambellup Primary School special needs assistant Kathryn Collins has been named as a national finalist at the 2023 Australian Teacher Aide of the Year Awards.

Her unwavering devotion to providing support and education to children with special needs was recognised after she was crowned WA’s finalist during Teacher Appreciation Week in August.

Ms Collins has been a stalwart of the school for the past 20 years, and after being an education assistant for seven of them, she shifted to helping children with special needs.

Kathryn Collins helps students Malachi Penny, 4, Mason Pike, 5, and Leila Michael, 4, thread necklaces.
Camera IconKathryn Collins helps students Malachi Penny, 4, Mason Pike, 5, and Leila Michael, 4, thread necklaces. Credit: Harry Grigson/Great Southern Herald

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“I always wanted to help educate children with special needs,” Ms Collins said.

Ms Collins assists her young students with activities.
Camera IconMs Collins assists her young students with activities. Credit: Harry Grigson/Great Southern Herald

“I’m very passionate in ensuring all kids have access to good quality high education to be supported and feel like they belong in the community.”

Ms Collins supports students in the kindergarten, pre-primary, and first-grade classrooms, where she plays a crucial role in nurturing the skills and knowledge of young learners.

“I currently work closely with two kids but it has been up to five in the past,” she said.

“I absolutely love this job, and I’m very passionate about providing the kids with life skills and helping them communicate.

“Some of them, that’s the hardest part, because they’re unable to communicate so it’s tough for them to find belonging in the community.”

Sue Sheridan nominated Kathryn Collins in the awards.
Camera IconSue Sheridan nominated Kathryn Collins in the awards. Credit: Harry Grigson/Great Southern Herald

Fellow teacher Sue Sheridan, who has been named national teacher of the year previously, nominated Ms Collins for the award.

“I was very honoured to be nominated by my peers, and its very special that they acknowledge the way I have gone about my job and how hard I work,” Ms Collins said.

“I’m very privileged to work with the team at this school, and to be nominated by someone of her calibre to recognise me is very humbling.

“I didn’t expect it at all, and then to go one step further and be the State finalist is very special.”

The State champion said working within the education department in a small regional community had presented its fair share of challenges.

“We are a very small regional town and we don’t have a lot of access to specialised programs and centres like our city counterparts do, which can be extremely challenging to negotiate at times,” she said.

“But because of that, I have developed my own programs by liaising with these centres and specialists, which has been extremely rewarding.”

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