If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team of hard working teachers to shape the minds of the future generation.
Enter Liverpool Boys High School: one of the most successful villages in the state.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't slowed down the staff and students at last year's Secondary School of the Year (Government).
The school has been recognised in recent months with several awards and nominations.
Western Sydney Women Awards
Teacher Christine Huynh won the Western Sydney Woman Educator of the Year award recently.
The English and drama teacher has led the path towards assessment and reporting using the general capabilities in the syllabus. Each student has a skills profile of the general capabilities which is tracked through software she has helped implement.
It's an honour to be recognised in the field, especially one I'm so passionate about. But it's not a solitary effort.Christine Huynh
"We have been working with Dr Darrall Thompson from University Technology Sydney since 2017 to assess and report on the general capabilities," she said.
"There has been a shift from assessing purely content work to assessing the skills that students have developed in their learning. The idea of tracking students is to see how these skills have developed over time. A skills profile will also allow students to be mentored by staff in their choices and allow students to see how their skills have developed over time and focus on skills that need to be developed.
"At Liverpool Boys, we also do Project Based Learning. This means traditional subjects are integrated into a project, where students spend an extended time investigating and responding to problems or questions related to a subject."
Ms Huynh, who has been teaching at the school for the past eight years, said being informed she was a finalist was really an "honour."
"But to be awarded - especially in a pool of other amazing teachers - has been surreal," she said.
"I remember wanting to be a teacher from a young age - I would sit and mark my friend's books! The wonderful teachers I had at school also inspired me and I love that we truly can make a difference.
"I always think it is important to keep learning and developing my skills set - so my life goal is to keep learning and exploring. For school, one of my key goals as the year 10 advisor is to ensure my year group are equipped with the skills they need before they leave school.
"To help, we are currently developing a certificate that is representative of each student's capabilities for our year 12 students. It is exciting work as we want students to be recognised for their skills in communication and collaboration, attitudes and values, practical and organisational, research and critical thinking and innovation and creativity."
Australian Education Awards
Ms Huynh is also a finalist in the teacher of the year category for the Australian Education Awards.
Last year's Secondary school of the year (Government) is also a finalist in the same category this year.
The school is also shortlisted for the Innovation in Curriculum Design and principal (Michael Saxon) awards. The winners and excellence awards will be announced at a live virtual event on November 26.
"It's an honour to be recognised in the field, especially one I'm so passionate about. But it's not a solitary effort," Ms Huynh said.
"All the teachers in our school work hard to provide our students with the best education; the proverb 'It take a village to raise a child' rings true. I believe all of us deserve to be recognised."
Ms Huynh said this year has been "very different" for teachers and students.
"Almost overnight, we went from classroom to online teaching. We had to change our teaching programs and lessons to ensure they would be engaging online. We also had to ensure that all students had access to a device and to their learning," she said.
When we did come back to face-to-face learning, the restrictions placed on what we could do at school meant that we have not been able to run face-to-face workshops and excursions. However, we have been able to adapt and we have run a few incursions at school with facilitators from the StoryFactory and Belvoir St Theatre zooming in. It's been challenging but has also allowed us to think creatively to keep lessons going and engaging."
NSW Minister's and Secretary's Awards for Excellence
The school recently won a Secretary's Award for an Outstanding School Initiative at the NSW Minister's and Secretary's Awards for Excellence for their Take Over Project.
Hosted by the Public Education Foundation, the awards recognise public school students, staff and parents who have made major contributions to their education communities and serve as role models to their peers.
In 2019, the Sydney Opera House took over the school for three weeks. Regular lessons were replaced with an intensive program of workshops, mentoring, presentations and performances across 12 classrooms. The Opera House's Creative Leadership in Learning program enables teachers to embed creativity in the school, using the Opera House's artistic resources and creative processes to teach risk-taking, collaboration and curiosity.
It was the third year of the program at the school and 120 students from years 7 to 10 participated with students exploring their passions and creating products which were displayed in an exciting festival.
Department of Education secretary Mark Scott said it was timely to celebrate the range of achievements in a difficult year for schools, staff and students.
"This year's recipients showed the remarkable flexibility and resourcefulness in our school communities when faced with the learning challenges of COVID-19," he said.
"Many of these schools and teachers have used their significant knowledge of education in their communities to lift their school standards and recognise all students as their own learners."
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said: "These awards highlight the tremendous contribution that students, teachers, support staff, principals and the school community make to public education in NSW as we strive for learning and teaching excellence."