Lifesaving PE teacher wins Order of Australia medal

Teachers come from all walks of life – read on to learn how one person went from a saving lives to transforming them…

Upwey High School Teacher Stafford Smith was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to life saving and education.

Stafford's surf lifesaving legacy

Stafford Smith
Stafford Smith

Stafford was a surf lifesaver at Gunnamatta for several years before joining Upwey High School as a Physical Education teacher in 1981.

'When I started at Upwey, the opportunity to introduce a Surf Life Saving Unit at Year 10 presented [itself],' Stafford says. 'Our first class obtained their Bronze medal in 1983.'

Stafford introduced a program partnering with Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club in 1999. Hundreds of Upwey students have gained their Bronze Medallion since then.

Stafford's students have taken on leadership positions at the Woolamai club, and careers in emergency services and health.

'If I have had a positive influence, or I have helped students achieve their goals, or even helped them recognise a passion they can follow as a career pathway, then I am very happy I have helped in their journey through life,' Stafford says.

Stafford worked in various roles at the school, including leading teacher. In his current role, he coordinates camps aimed at engaging young people. He still helps with the bronze program.

Stafford felt honoured and humbled to receive the award for doing what he loved.

'I share in the students' pride when they accomplish their goals,' Stafford says. 'And I feel so lucky to have been able to combine my passion for education and lifesaving to give young people opportunities to become better citizens.'

'The relationships I have formed with my colleagues, the students and parents over the many years has been the best reward.'

Queens Birthday honours list

Our teachers recognised at this year's Queen's Birthday Honours List have made an outstanding contribution to education in Victoria. To see if other colleagues or friends have been recognised, see The Queen's Birthday 2019 Honours List

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