2016 PASS Awards


The 2016 PASS Awards were once again, a huge success with approximately 200 specialist education professionals in attendance.  The night is an annual event which provides recognition and celebrates the outstanding achievements and excellence of people involved in specialist education in Victoria.  The event was once again, opened by the Honourable James Merlino, Deputy Premier, Minister of Education and Minister of Emergency Services who praised the work and achievements from specialist educators all over Victoria. 


PASS would especially like to acknowledge our sponsors who proudly supported the event, Victorian Teachers Mutual Bank, ANZUK and the Department of Education and Training Victoria, without whose help the evening could not be such a huge success.


This year, there were 10 categories in all.  The review panel for each category comprised three people: a member of the PASS Committee, the previous winner of the category, and a general member of PASS. Thanks to each of the panel members who gave their time freely to read, assess and shortlist the nominations.  This year’s nominations were all an extremely high calibre and thus, the task of the Awards panels was extremely difficult.  In true ‘special’ school style, the panels came up with different approaches to shortlisting which has resulted in some categories having only one nominee short-listed, and others having four nominees short-listed - the element of surprise in the decision of the winners is equally ‘different’


We are extremely proud of all the shortlisted nominees and their achievements and the celebration on the night reflected this.  All 2016 winners receive a $500 Professional Development voucher from PASS, an awards plaque and a perpetual plaque for display in the school reception area.  We always encourage multiple nominations and particularly congratulate Marnebek School who nominated in nearly every category and successfully shortlisted 4 members.


The 2016 PASS Awards Winners are:


The Most Outstanding Education Support Award – Jennifer Twite, LaTrobe SDS

The panel was impressed with all the nominees for this Award - their work exemplifies the support they all provide to the specialist education community. Jenny's work across the school is not just outstanding it is 'above and beyond'.  Her initiative to train for, develop and implement a school wide swimming program is valued by all at Latrobe SDS. Her role also sees her involved with the School Wide Positive Behaviour Support program and she models and implements the school ethos and values.  Her commitment to the school and to the wider school community makes her a very worthy recipient of this Award.  Congratulations to Jenny and all at Latrobe SDS.


The Most Outstanding Graduate Teacher Award – Samantha Simpkin, Colac Special School

Samantha has been selected as the winner in this category from a hotly-contested field of excellent nominations. Her contribution at school level is extensive. She has been responsible for change and coordinating role across different domains. Samantha is clearly an active team player, who is already undertaking further study. She has presented to a wider audience outside of her own school, presenting to regional colleagues at an Educator Showcase event on differentiation of the Victorian Curriculum in an art program.  We congratulate Samantha in being the successful winner of the Outstanding Graduate Teacher Award


The Most Outstanding Early Childhood Teacher Award – Holly Jones, Warrainga Park School

Holly has worked in special education for 38 years, the last 15 at Warringa Park. She has made a life-long commitment to best practice in the transition of children from kinder to special school. Holly has focussed particularly on communication skill development, embracing a variety of approaches. She is commended for her approach to literacy through text immersion, incorporating her love of literature with dramatization of text, use of sensory and auditory supports and extensive knowledge of the curriculum. Holly's commitment extends to providing expert support to her colleagues as a mentor.  We congratulate Holly on her well-deserved success in winning the Outstanding Early Childhood Teacher Award.


The Most Outstanding Specialist Teacher Award – Lauren Hogan, Baltara School and Andrea Cain, Warringa Park School

All the nominations within this field demonstrated a commitment to ensuring all students had an opportunity to engaging in learning. Due to the diversity of specialist field covered within this section two winners have been selected.


Lauren Hogan - Lauren has been awarded the PASS Outstanding Specialist Award because of her contribution to the development of the Inclusion Support Service at Baltara School. This service assists schools to give vulnerable children a better chance to engage in learning. The service aims to improve interventions for children in out of home care by increasing capacity of schools to implement trauma informed, evidence based, personalised interventions and adopt a team around the learner approach.  Lauren’s work has resulted in primary age students in Out-of-Home care within the NWVR metropolitan area being better track and their school and school staff having a better understanding and ability to support the needs of these valuable students. Her leadership in this service as well as her guidance and support to all involved, is highly commended.

Andrea Cain - Andrea has been award the PASS Outstanding Specialist Award because of her passion and dedication to making Visual Arts come to life at Warringa Park. Andrea has very high expectations of what can be achieved by students and this has made the difference to them as artists. She has ensured students have the opportunity to exhibit their work and has organised a series of community exhibits which celebrate the work of the students as artists and raise the profile of her school. Andrea commitment to ensuring student develop as artists her willing to share her classroom and practice with other teachers across the state is to be highly commended.


The Most Outstanding Allied Health Award – Lynley Huke, Sunbury & Macedon Ranges Specialist School

Lynley was appointed to Sunbury & Macedon Ranges Specialist School in a new role as social worker in 2016 to enhance the schools welfare support for families.  She established a Social Work model that works for the school community of over 200 students split across two campuses, linking in with a variety of agencies.  Respectful relationship were developed with not only students and their families but with all other professionals.  Lynley has the ability to link into and bring an alternative perspective to already established practices such as School Wide Positive Behaviour Support and the reinvigoration of staff.  Lynley took an active role in the Sunbury and Diggers Rest Network by providing professional learning to staff in mainstream schools.  The panel agreed that not only did Lynley provide a workable model for the school but she actively participated outside the school gates utilising already established networks.  Lynley’s contribution to Special Education and supporting student’s with an intellectual disability is outstanding as is evident by her ability to organise allied health staff in specialist school’s state wide.


The Most Outstanding Team Award, Karen Middleton, Jill Rodger, Pam Sproules, Jill O'Dowd, Colac Special School

Early Education Programs (EEPs) are not a new concept in special education.  This team could show dedication to the students, parents, future parents, schools, the education system, and across education systems in building the knowledge and capacity of all involved. Creating strong links between educational professionals, para-professionals, and therapists is crucial to maintain consistency and clear communication with the child at the centre. Through taking on research projects, providing information sessions for cross-system educators, building knowledge of colleagues in catering for children with special needs, funding application supports, and many more projects, this team comprising of Karen Middleton (EEP Teacher), Jill Rodger (EEP Coordinator), Pam Sproules and Jill O’Dowd (EEP Education Support Workers) have shown dedication, compassion, patience, and collaboration that is beyond reproach. Congratulations, Colac Specialist School EEP Team, on the wonderful professionalism that you bring to our craft and the positive attitudes that are developed through your spirit and generosity. Well done and keep the fire burning!!!


The Most Outstanding Primary School Teacher Award, Rochelle Curnow, Kalianna School

Rochelle lead her school in the development of a structured learning environment that accommodated the learning and emotional needs of dis engaged students. She accomplished this  through extensive consultation with the Kalianna leadership team, student families and the wider school community and through a comprehensive review of the latest research in this area. Her efforts have been rewarded with a significant increase in attendance and a subsequent increase in student engagement in the school programs.


The Most Outstanding Secondary School Teacher Award, Nicole Marson, Bayside SDS

Nicole's application detailed significant contributions to students and staff at Bayside SDS and other schools across a wide range of programs and initiatives, both school and community based.  Nicole's application indicated her passion, energy, commitment and capacity to implement her ideas to ensure the best outcomes for students with additional needs.  Nicole work, skills and knowledge has not only supported and developed Bayside staff, but has supported staff from other schools across the region,  in implementing  ABLES and Positive Behaviour Support.  Nicole also dedicates significant time to ensuring students have the opportunity to participate in community projects and activities, including musical performance, outings to the football etc.  A highly dedicated teacher.


The Most Outstanding Leading Teacher Award, Glenn Board, Waratah SDS

Glenn was voted winner for his outstanding work in leading School wide positive behaviour support both at Waratah SDS and in coaching and supporting other specialist schools across the state. 


The Most Outstanding Principal Award, Norma Callanan, Avenues Education

Norma has developed Avenues Education to become a specialist school working in partnership with the Alfred and Eastern Health Child and Youth Mental Health Services. The school supports the educational needs of students with mental health issues from F-12 across two Victorian Regions. The students have a variety of mental health diagnosis including anxiety, depression, ASD, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, ADHD and oppositional disorders.  Norma is an outstanding leader who drives the school’s vision of being an innovative organisation providing high quality educational support to students through their mental health partnerships. Norma leads the staff to reach higher levels of professionalism, engagement, advocacy, inclusion and innovation.  Norma’s work has extended beyond her own workplace and is making a profound difference in the wider community


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