Alocal secondary school teacher has been recognised by Minister for Education, Training and Skills Blair Boyer for her outstanding contribution to the profession in South Australia.
Mount Gambier High School visual arts teacher Rebecca Johnson received the Minister’s Arts Education Award for Early Career at the recent Educators SA 2023 World Teachers’ Day Association Awards.
The Minister’s awards reflect an ongoing commitment by the state government to recognise, celebrate and reward the work of outstanding teachers of the arts.
Miss Johnson won $8000 to use towards professional development and arts education at Mount Gambier High School, part of which she will use to undertake several courses including workshops at Fitzroy Painting and courses at both the SA and Victorian Art Galleries.
Miss Johnson said she would put some of the prize funds towards her Mount Gambier High School Art Crawl initiative, which she hopes will be a subject next year instead of an extracurricular activity.
“The students do the art crawl and their whole semester is just planning and preparing for the art crawl,” she said.
“They can take on various roles so it can be like the event planning or the PR manager or it could be the artist or they could do the emceeing on the night and it all goes towards their grade.
“They do not have to be super good at art, they can just have that as a fun thing they are doing but then kind of focus on other skills within that.
“It kind of gives that opportunity for them to just have fun in art and still kind of develop their skills.”
Miss Johnson said she was extremely shocked to find out she had won the award.
“About a month ago I got the phone call that I had won it, but I had to keep it a secret until the World Teachers’ Day event, so it was really hard keeping it a secret,” she said.
Miss Johnson said she did not take the traditional path to being an art teacher.
“I did a Bachelor of Visual Communications so illustration and design at university with Japanese as a side and then I decided to live in Japan for a couple of years,” she said.
“The only way to get into Japan easily was to teach English, I did not really want to be a teacher, I just didn’t think it was for me.
“It was about six months into teaching there that I realised that I actually did like it and I enjoyed it and it was fun.
“I came back and did my four years of teaching degree and then I did a year at Whyalla and this is my second year at Mount so I’m in my third year of teaching.
“I kind of just fell into the art role and I think at Mount I just had so much scope to just play around and have fun and just develop my skills.”
Miss Johnson also recently represented Mount Gambier High School as one of three finalists in the Department of Education’s Public Education Awards for the Credit Union SA Excellence and Equity in Education Award.