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Education awards recognise resilience and commitment

While the achievements of the Atwea College community are celebrated annually, in 2020 the Adult Learner’s Week Awards have highlighted additional levels of resilience and commitment by both students and staff.


Atwea College Chairperson, Chris Seysener and Executive Director Rowan Cox, announced five awards on Thursday 4 September at a small (CovidSafe) event and using video conferencing for an online audience reaching into the Hunter Valley and Mid North Coast regions.

The awards recognise people within the Atwea community who have shown commitment and dedication in their engagement with education and training.

As a community college, Atwea specialises in providing learning and educational pathways in niche and mainstream vocational and skills areas but it is also well recognised for its ability to assisting disadvantaged and marginalised learners.

There were three awards announced in honour of people who have played a significant role in the Atwea story:

  • Ray Sandy Memorial Award supporting a trainer in business or IT which was awarded to Barrie Wilson.

  • The Paul Mather Memorial Award for a student of the Alesco Senior College was awarded to Joel Gilmour who overcame significant obstacles to complete his final three years of high school.

  • Deborah Mercer was named the winner of the Alan Melling Memorial Award who showed tremendous dedication to the outcomes of students studying health and community services.

Business, leadership and medical administration trainer at the Atwea Coast campus Pauline Bergin was named the Atwea Outstanding Tutor.Tayla Peters who has completed vocational training in Individual Support (Disability) was named Atwea Outstanding Student of the Year.

Atwea College Chairperson Chris Seysener commended the commitment of students and staff.

“I am incredibly proud to be a part of an organisation that, despite the challenges of COVID19, continues to find better ways for people to access education. Atwea College has adapted and continues to develop new ways of working and delivering education safely and effectivity,” he said.

Atwea Executive Director Rowan Cox said that Adult Learners Week was of particular significance in 2020 because of the resilience of our trainers and the students.

“We had to develop ways of engage and connect students in a different format. This could not have happened or been effective if it wasn’t for the innovation of our trainers and the commitment of their students. This year there are 385 students undertaking their high school studies with Alesco and hundreds of students in vocational, skills set training and in our lifestyle courses who are supported by more than 100 trainers and teachers. Each person should be very proud of their commitment to education in challenging times,” she said.

About the winners

Deborah Mercer was named winner of the Alan Melling Memorial Award for her dedication and passion for teaching. Deborah is a teacher in the vocation of disability and aged care support and was nominated by her peers and students because of her passion for teaching and her ability to create a comprehensive learning environment where her students could gain real world experience in the Aged Care sector.

Atwea acknowledges Deborah’s natural ability to display professionalism with a touch of personal experience that not only endeared her to her students but ensured that they were well equipped to enter the field of aged care.

The Paul Mather Memorial Award recognises a student of the Alesco Senior College for their dedication to study and was presented to Joel Gilmour. Joel has spent the past three years completing his high school studies with Alesco. During this time, he overcame significant obstacles. According to his teachers, Joel embodies the Alesco philosophy through his work ethic, dedication and the manner in which he conducts himself within our school and the broader community. After he completes his year 12 exams he hopes to move into a career within the tourism industry with a particular passion for theme park management.

Barrie Wilson was named the winner of the Ray Sandy Memorial Award and is trainer in IT and business. He was nominated by his peers and students because of his commitment to student outcomes which he has demonstrated through providing flexibility and additional support to enable students to seamlessly connect with online teaching platforms. This is supported by his patience and support of students during challenging times.

The Outstanding Tutor of the Year award was awarded to Pauline Bergin who has taught courses in: Medical Administration, Leadership and Management, Business, Foundation Skills, Medication Assistance Skillset and has recently embarked on a new venture teaching the Certificate III in Individual Support – Disability. She is a passionate teacher who is incredibly supportive of her students and their educational outcomes.

Tayla Peters completed her Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) with Atwea College in May 2020 and is looking forward to starting her career. As the winner of the Atwea Outstanding Student of the Year award, she believes that her Atwea training has now given her the skills that complement her lifelong passion for working with people with disabilities and credits her teachers and her fellow students for making learning such a positive step in her life.

Above Image: Outstanding Student of the Year, Tayla Peters with proud family

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