A Malaysian-born teacher who gives indigenous art classes at the Kimberley Training Institute has been awarded one of the country's highest teaching honours.
Jacky Cheng was named Vocational Education and Training teacher of the year last night at the 20th annual Australian Training Awards in Perth for her courses in indigenous and Torres Strait Islander culture, arts and crafts.
Ms Cheng had a serendipitous journey from her hometown in Malaysia, where she studied architecture, to teaching at one of the world's most remote locations.
She left Malaysia in 2001 to complete her architecture studies in Sydney, eventually lecturing in the subject at the University of NSW.
In 2006, she moved to Broome to work as a nanny but quickly realised it was the perfect place to establish herself as an artist.
Her students now range from teenagers to the elderly in remote North West communities, such as Bidyadanga, 180km south of Broome.
She helped establish a community arts centre there and ran a Certificate III course in arts administration, teaching her students the skills to run the centre.
The award recognises her ability to adapt classes to students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, including at Broome prison.
It also acknowledges extraordinary efforts to learn from her students about their language and culture, in turn using the knowledge to teach and engage them through indigenous art and storytelling.