Rotary Vocational Teacher Awards for Abbotsleigh Staff



L-R: Susan Filan and Heba Oweis.


This week I am pleased to announce that two of our staff have been awarded prestigious Vocational Teaching Awards through the Rotary Club of Wahroonga. Mrs Susan Filan, Head of Environmental Education and Mrs Heba Oweis, Year 3 Teacher, were presented their awards at a ceremony held at Pymble Golf Club on Wednesday 17 August. The awards program recognises outstanding teachers who take a leadership role in professional and community networks and who support the involvement of colleagues in external learning opportunities. We are fortunate to have professionals of such high calibre on our staff and I congratulate Susan and Heba on their achievements. 

The Rotary Club of Wahroonga Vocational Teaching Awards is a prestigious awards program to recognise outstanding teachers who have taken a leadership role in professional and community networks and who have supported the involvement of colleagues in external learning opportunities. This program has been specifically designed to support the National Professional Standards for Teachers (LEAD Teachers). The awards criteria are as follows:

Conscientious, ethical, and high performing classroom practitioner.
Committed to acquiring new skills and encouraging colleagues.
Involved in community (including school related) activities e.g. service clubs, charities, sport etc.

Rotary 17 8 16 Vocational-Dinner Susan Filan Neil-McWhannell Brian Wexham WEB

L-R: Neil McWhannell, Susan Filan and Brian Wexham. 

Mrs Susan Filan

Susan Filan is a worthy nominee for the 2016 Vocational Teaching Award. She brings to her teaching a prestigious academic career which has included scientific research work, teaching from Kindergarten to University level, the publication of a range scientific texts and a Fulbright Scholarship. In addition to her role as a Science teacher in our Senior School she is currently Head of the Abbotsleigh Centre for Environmental Education. In this capacity she regularly initiates new programs and training opportunities focusing on sustainability and environmental issues. She brings a wealth of experience and energy to her role as a teacher and leader.

Over the last twelve months Susan has been responsible for the establishment of the Abbotsleigh Robotics Team. In this time, she has built a very successful student team who have won awards at regional, national and international levels. To achieve this Susan strategically gathered a very talented group of mentors from industry and school contexts. She has raised the profile of Robotics across both the Senior and Junior school campuses, has secured funding through sponsorship and has inspired dozens of girls to be more actively involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Susan is an active collaborator and has built many networks both within and outside the school. She is very generous with her time and has spends afternoons, weekends and holiday time supporting the robotics team. Her significant leadership and tireless work has led the girls to a number of significant victories in Robotics culminating in an international competition in St Louis USA.

Susan uses the fun challenge of dancing robots to highlight the curriculum potential of robotics to   her colleagues during hands-on professional development workshops. Susan encouraged AIS TAS teachers to use robotics in teaching at a recent conference, where she drew upon personal experience and peer-reviewed literature to promote fun, project-based learning. Her vocational teaching also extends to community volunteer work. Susan is a volunteer trainer with the Hornsby Dog Training Club and a Velma's Pets As Therapy (VPAT) volunteer, visiting local aged care facilities. As a VPAT Trainer, she has helped dozens of new volunteers and their dogs learn how to safely interact and bring joy to people in hospitals and care facilities. Her approach to learning, teaching and serving others is exemplary and she would be an excellent candidate for the Vocational Teaching Awards.

Rotary 17 8 16 Vocational Dinner Heba Oweis Neil McWhannell Brian Wexham WEB

L-R: Neil McWhannell, Heba Oweis and Brian Wexham.  
Mrs Heba Oweis 


Heba Oweis is an experienced and exemplary educator, currently teaching Year 3 at Abbotsleigh Junior School. Heba is an experienced, conscientious, ethical and high performing classroom practitioner. Heba is committed to acquiring new skills and she has recently started the Photography Club for Year 4 students. This is also another example of how she is involved in the School community.

Heba cares about the community and works to find opportunities to embed service-learning into her teaching programs. One example is working with St Lucy's School as part of the Semester 2 integrated unit of work that sees her students learning and engaging supportively with the students from St Lucy’s.

Heba also has coordinated with Wahroonga Rotary Club to support The Salvation Army in the annual Red Shield Appeal. This involved her organising teams of students and parents to fulfil their duties on Sunday 29 May this year. Leading this event echoes Heba's strong Christian values and highlights how she always puts others before herself.

Heba is committed to encouraging colleagues through leading the mentor program in the Junior School this year. She is also mentoring a new staff member with whom she regularly engages, ensures she is available to answer additional questions and monitors her wellbeing by encouraging out of workplace meetings. As a professional in the teaching profession, Heba is committed to working with upcoming teachers through regularly taking on practicum students.

As a lifelong learner and leader Heba is leading and facilitating of group of her colleagues who are completing the Harvard University Project Zero on Critical and Creative Thinking. Her organisational skills, ability to facilitate collaboration and a growth mindset have shone through. Heba models the highest standards of pastoral care, demonstrating her deep compassion, consideration and ethical stance in working alongside her students and colleagues. Her optimism and view of us all as capable individuals is most enabling. As one colleague said, ‘Being on Heba's team is a sure fire recipe for success!’ 

Heba is an outstanding educator who inspires her peers to seek exemplary standards. She does this thorough a most positive demeanour that is the epitome of humility and highest of ethical standards.





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