Sarah Washbrooke from Remarkables Primary School in Queenstown has been selected as the 2020 Prime Minister’s Science Teacher Prize winner.
Sarah is a highly valued member of her school and also the wider Wakatipu community, bringing her expertise in the Technology Curriculum to the forefront. She has taught technology for the past 23 years, 17 of those being in New Zealand.
She has taught at Remarkables Primary School since 2016 as their technology specialist teacher, supporting the development of students within the world of science and technology. Her key focus is the Year 6 – 8 age group.
Sarah uses an integrated approach to learning, which involves incorporating ‘real world’ technology projects. Engagement of her students in learning is high, due to students seeing an authentic purpose for the learning taking place. She has created technology assessment rubrics and STEM/Technology programs for her students in all areas of the Technology Curriculum from robotics and visual communication to gardening and digital technology. These are frequently shared with teachers across New Zealand through discussion forums, webinars and Facebook groups.
In order to encourage student engagement she continually reviews programmes, frequently changing the context based on student’s voices. She also provides regular feedback to students and encourages them to seek feedback from stakeholders, such as local engineers, artists and volunteer groups, from inside the community, who then are involved in the student’s technology studies. Sarah incorporates te ao Māori and whanaungatanga within her teaching at Remarkables Primary School by bringing in the stories of tangata whenua through the different projects.
Sarah keeps up to date with the New Zealand Curriculum development and regularly attends professional learning in technology education. She also attends regular cluster meetings to discuss new achievement strands. Sarah volunteers at Technology Education New Zealand (TENZ) and Digital Technology Teacher, which have directly fed into her teaching practice, enabling her students to access current, valid and appropriate learning opportunities. Sarah has also spoken at conferences, run workshops and has helped mentor groups of teachers.
In 2019, Sarah received the Technology Education New Zealand (TENZ) ‘Outstanding Technology Teacher Award’ for continued excellence in Technology teaching. She was also nominated by colleagues, parents and students for the Genesis school-gen super teacher award, where she placed as a runner up.
The Prime Minister’s Science Teacher Prize selection panel was most impressed with the way that Sarah’s work increasing student participation and engagement in technology at her school and also inside her community, also by how she develops and shares resources to the wider New Zealand technology teaching community.
Sarah says “Having taught technology for over 20 years, I can still say I love my job.”
To learn more about Sarah’s mahi, please see the media release.