WATTLE Grove Primary School’s incredible run of success has continued, with Carl Sanderson named Primary Teacher of the Year at the 2017 State Education Awards.
For the Sawyer Valley resident, it is recognition for the work he has put in to an incredibly challenging role over the past six years.
Mr Sanderson is the teacher of Wattle Grove’s Multi-Aged Academic Class (MAAC), a class that combines talented students from years four, five and six into one class, a role he was hand-picked for by principal Julie Roberts.
The challenge of the role is teaching three age groups at one time, age groups that may be at different levels of both mental and social capacity, but Mr Sanderson has proven to be extremely capable and adaptable.
While science, maths and literacy are an obvious focus in the class, Mr Sanderson also uses slightly more unusual techniques to challenge his students, teaching circus skills such as riding unicycles and juggling.
It might seem like fun and games, but there is a very real and practical point to these more unusual exercises.
“I learnt the circus skills a long time ago from a guy by the name of Reg Bolton, he used to go to schools and run these courses and I wasn’t even a teacher at that stage, I was just helping him out and I saw that these activities can change the whole perspective on school for a student,” he said.
“I actually taught myself the skills and in every school I’ve been in, I’ve run a circus skills program.
“It’s a right-brain left-brain activity, especially juggling and unicycling, which virtually no-one can do.
“It teaches you resilience and persistence.
“The life lessons students need to be taught is that things aren’t always going to be easy, there are going to be hard times and occasionally you will fail at things, but you can’t quit. You need to keep going and trying.
“It’s also great fun, which doesn’t hurt.”
While immensely proud of winning the award, Mr Sanderson said that his students also deserve a large share of the credit.
“Room 21 is a pretty great place to be at the moment and the kids are very proud.
“One of the things that tipped me over the edge, and I’m almost certain of this, is that when the judges came to assess in the classroom, the students were in groups doing different things such as robotics, coding, some students were doing hard maths, and those students essentially ran the whole thing.
“These people were blown away because they’re only little children but they were doing all these intensive, rich, deep activities.
“So they need to take a lot of the credit and for them it’s been an exciting couple of days.”
Mr Sanderson’s win is yet another accolade for Wattle Grove Primary School in the State Education Awards.
In 2014 the school was named Primary School of the Year, while in 2015 Kristy Campbell was named Beginning Teacher of the Year.