The most rewarding thing about teaching is seeing a child's face when that 'light bulb' moment happens, says the 2021 Northern Territory Early Childhood Educator of the Year Michelle Righton.
"It's when you've been teaching them a concept or an idea, and at the end, they go, 'oh, I get it now', that it is all worthwhile," she said.
Ms Righton teaches the transition class at Katherine South Primary School and runs the school's phonics program, which teaches students to read and write.
"I do a lot of modeling and team teaching with the other teachers in my area and show them what to do and how to do it properly," Ms Righton said.
"And I collate data and share that with the rest of the staff."
Outside of her classroom, Ms Righton is a founding member of the school's dance academy and runs the school choir.
"At recess and lunchtime, the big kids come to me, and we do dance. I teach them different dances throughout the year."
Ms Righton was surprised to win the award, and when asked why she thinks she did, she laughed and said it was because she was 'awesome'.
While her comment was said with her tongue firmly in her cheek - that is exactly what those who nominated her think she is.
The transition class she teaches has a very high attendance rate, one of the biggest challenges facing most local educators.
"The children are enjoying coming to school and being with me," Ms Righton said.
"And that is always good."
The 2021 Teaching in the Territory Excellence Awards acknowledges the dedicated teachers, principals, leaders, and support staff providing high-calibre education services across the Northern Territory.
These annual awards coincide with the Northern Territory's World Teachers' Day, an important day of recognition for educators around the globe, and an opportunity for schools to celebrate the positive outcomes they have on the lives of young people.
Ms Righton is one of nine 'Teaching in the Territory Excellence Awards' recipients, beating six finalists in her category.
Minister for Education Lauren Moss said the annual Teaching in the Territory Excellence Awards is an opportunity to thank the many teachers, principals, and support staff for their outstanding effort to support students in government schools across the Territory to be their best.
"Our educators do an amazing job inspiring, guiding, and equipping our students with the skills and confidence to lead the Territory into the future," Ms Moss said.
"I congratulate all our nominees and winners for setting new standards of achievement towards quality education and better futures for our young Territorians."
Other winners of 2021 Teaching in the Territory Excellence Awards are: Northern Territory Principal of the Year - Donna Wright, Principal at Sadadeen Primary School in Central Australia; Northern Territory Leader in Education - Amber Hitchcock, Humpty Doo Primary School (Top End); Northern Territory Primary Educator of the Year- Sonia Niven, Nemarluk Primary School (Darwin); Northern Territory Secondary Educator of the Year - Sophie Grambeau, Laynhapuy Homelands School (East Arnhem); Northern Territory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Educator of the Year - Cheryle Edwards, Acacia Hill School (Central); Northern Territory Inclusion Educator of the Year - Fransina Norval, Tennant Creek High School (Barkly); Northern Territory Vocational Education Trainer of the Year - Alex Payne, Shepherdson College (East Arnhem); and Northern Territory Education Support Person of the Year - Anne Ryan, Anula Primary School (Darwin).
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