Research trip to Australia for fellowship-winning teacher

Woolf Fisher Fellowship winner Jennifer Ashby, of Logan Park High School, will study contemporary education techniques in Australia next year. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Woolf Fisher Fellowship winner Jennifer Ashby, of Logan Park High School, will study contemporary education techniques in Australia next year. Photo: Peter McIntosh
‘‘Is this a scam?’’ — that was Jennifer Ashby’s first thought when she received an email out of the blue, telling her she had won a prestigious Woolf Fisher Fellowship.

The email swore the high achieving Logan Park High School English teacher and award-winning ShowQuest and Stage Challenge director to secrecy until it was officially announced.

‘‘But before I read to the bottom of the email where it said I had to keep it confidential, it asked me for my bank account number.

‘‘So I rang through to my head of department and said, ‘Is this a scam?’

‘‘And she said, ‘Jennifer, you’re not supposed to tell me — look at the bottom of the letter’.

‘‘I have to admit, I didn’t actually know what it was until she told me.’’

Mrs Ashby was nominated for the award by an anonymous Dunedin resident, and said she was ‘‘really blown away’’ to receive it.

Woolf Fisher Fellowships reward educational excellence in teaching, and are designed to send leading secondary teachers and principals overseas to examine different teaching practices.

Mrs Ashby plans to spend time in Australia next year, looking at John Marsden schools.

‘‘John Marsden is a novelist and educational theorist, and he has avant garde approaches to education.

‘‘His schools are very radical. They run them a bit like universities and the kids come in about 10am.

‘‘I don’t know if we’ll adopt all of his ideas, but I think some of it could fit in with Logan Park because we’re quite an open school.’’

She also planned to visit the Melbourne Arts Festival.

Woolf Fisher Trust director Nigel Evans presented the award to Mrs Ashby at a ceremony earlier this week.

He said Mrs Ashby would continue to receive her teaching salary during the term of her fellowship, and the Ministry of Education would cover the costs of a relieving teacher to take her classes while she is away.

The fellowship provides funding to cover travel, study and associated costs.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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