After many years teaching in primary and high schools, Liz Waldron realised kindergarten was the place she could make the biggest difference to children’s lives.
The Cable Beach Primary School teacher is the first to win the title of WA Premier’s early childhood teacher of the year.
The new category in the WA Education Department awards, announced this week, reflects the growing emphasis on early childhood education, with pre-primary to become the first year of compulsory schooling from next year.
Premier Colin Barnett said the new award was part of the fifth annual WA Education Awards, offering $264,000 in prizes and which recognised the finest teachers, principals, support staff members and public schools across the State.
“Elizabeth Waldron is a teacher with more than 30 years experience and has dedicated a big part of her career to Kimberley children,” he said. “Using her years of experience in Aboriginal education, Elizabeth has worked with the school’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education officer to create innovative learning programs for Aboriginal students.”
Ms Waldron first started teaching high school English and social science. She taught for the School of the Air and in primary schools before switching to kindergarten.
Six years ago she went back to university to complete a Masters of early childhood education. “That’s where I thought I could have the most influence and put what I’ve known over a long time into practice,” she said.
Ms Waldron said even though kindergarten students now spent more time on developing early reading skills, they still learnt through play.
A teacher’s first job was to find out something about every child, so they could build on that connection. “Because learning is about trust as well, it doesn’t matter if you’re four,” she said.
She hopes to use some of her $25,000 prize for further study. Broome Senior High School and West Balcatta PS were named the best schools in the State.