Best Teacher Award
Name: Dr Mariëtte Wheeler
School: Protea Heights Academy, Brackenfell
District: Metropole East Education District
Dr Wheeler is awarded this prize based on her work in science at Protea Heights Academy. She transforms the learning experiences of the learners at her school from passive learning into an immersive experience that allows learners to explore the world around them through science related activities, project-based learning and technology assisted learning, debating and community projects. She improved the teaching profession by identifying gaps in the teaching at her school by making science and her subject come alive to her learners.
She makes international and local subject matter experts accessible to the learners who might never have been able to engage with scientists and other thought leaders. Through their engagements with these experts the learners learn valuable skills that are transferable to other subjects and gain a global perspective.
She also initiates exciting projects to promote awareness of global and local challenges related to a wide range of topics such as climate change, wildlife and gender issues. Exposing learners to projects linked to Antarctica is one example. These initiatives based mainly on a project-based learning approach helps them to develop skills necessary for the 21st century.
Dr Wheeler leverages her network and experiences from previous roles as researcher and environmental educationalist to enhance the learning experience of her learners. She also uses her experience in research and higher education to make scalable suggestions to improve the education system such as bringing a closer connection between higher education and basic education and her interest in making resources and opportunities available to rural communities to ensure impact is also achieved in these areas. She also infuses ICT and applications in her lessons, often involving her learners in national and international webinars, debates and field trips.
Dr Wheeler has demonstrated in her presentation how flexible in her approach to teaching is and she often adapts her approach allowing learners to participate in activities using resources available to them as well as adapting her teaching to the learning styles of her learners.
She demonstrates a keen interest in the progress of her learners during and beyond the classroom as she continues to follow their progress after school and continues to play a mentoring role in their lives.
She engages in continual professional development activities by writing articles as part of her contribution to the field and to inspire other teachers. She has suggested a database be established so that these networks can be shared to all schools.
Dr Wheeler sets the bar high for teachers by using effective instructional practices that could easily be replicated and scalable to influence teachers; excellent coalition with stakeholders to enhance the learning experiences of the learners and has an acute awareness of sharing her knowledge and experience to benefit the broader teaching fraternity.