Meet the 2018 finalists for outstanding primary school teacher award

​The Victorian Education Excellence Awards celebrate the outstanding efforts of educators who change the lives of students at their school.

Victorians should be proud of the excellence shown every day in public schools across the state, and for 15 years the Victorian Education Excellence Awards recognised the efforts of individuals and teams for their outstanding contributions to education.

The finalists for the 2018 Outstanding Primary Teacher Award are three educators who have shown an amazing dedication to the students in their care.

Natalie Schilov Kerri Smith and Natalie Karslake have all made a huge difference to their students and school community. Read about each finalists story below.

Natalie Schilov, Moreland Primary School

Encouraging energy and curiosity to create independent learners

As the Grade 5/6 and physical education teacher, Natalie Schilov believes that by understanding the personalities of her students she can bring out their best.

A focus of Natalie's teaching is to channel students' energy and curiosity into project-based learning. Using their creative thinking and practical skills, Natalie's students created an 'Island project' where they designed and brought to life a mini community.

Natalie enjoys hearing her students' amazing ideas and guiding them towards realistic outcomes that enrich their learning experience. The RACV Human Powered Vehicle Project provided her students with the opportunity to flourish as independent learners, contributing their ideas to plan and solve problems.

'Every child has passions and goals but not all have the confidence to express them,' said Natalie.

'By making the time to genuinely interact, I create strong bonds with my students that develop their self-belief and ability to find their voice.'

She believes that being a totally engaged teacher enhances their development and learning capacity.

Kerri Smith, Fish Creek and District Primary School

Building relationships with students

Prep teacher Kerri Smith from Fish Creek and District Primary School believes children learn best when they're having fun, and she has established strong connections with her students through her highly engaging teaching strategies.

'I am an advocate for all of our students and I feel that learning should be fun,' said Kerri.

'So I embed learning through play at all levels and my classroom is a fun and engaging place to be.'

Kerri has implemented a range of collaborative approaches to learning which encourage higher order thinking skills, team work and independence.

She has implemented a buddy program which pairs new Prep students with a Year 6 peer, and she organised a "Buddy Bench" so all students feel included and to inspire empathy and connection with each other.

With 35 years of teaching experience, Kerri is regarded by her colleagues as a lifelong learner who shares her wealth of knowledge as the driving force behind her school's Professional Learning Teams.

Natalie Karslake, Ballarat Specialist School

Supporting students with complex needs

Natalie Karslake has taught students with complex educational, communication and health needs. She believes that every child is capable of learning and achieves the greatest outcomes through positive learning experiences.

By building connections across the school community in Ballarat, Natalie has developed lessons to cater for her students' individual abilities and emotional needs.

Her reports have mapped student progress and provided parents and carers with knowledge about what the students can do, and their future focus.

'Effective collaboration with parents and carers means I gain a deep understanding of the student's needs and ensure consistency of approach from school to home,' said Natalie.

Natalie has consistently reflected on her own teaching practices so students receive a quality education.

'Everyone's capable of learning. We shouldn't define that in terms of abilities or disabilities, rather we should work to improve learning experiences.'​

Meet more finalists

There are a total of nine award categories in the Victorian Education Excellence Awards.

Meet the other finalists and celebrate the dedication of these leading educators.​​

Meet the finalists for the 2018 VEEAs
Winners are to be announced in October