St Patrick’s Primary School recently appointed acting principal Belinda Burton as the school’s new leader, and last Friday night she was presented with the JA Sutherland Memorial Award for 2018 from the Australian College of Educators.
The award was first given to those who have made a significant contribution to education in 1984.
“Mrs Burton more than satisfied the award’s strict criteria, as having contributed significantly to education and educational leadership over her teaching career,” said St Patrick’s head of pedagogy Elizabeth Makeham.
“St. Patrick’s school is very proud of Mrs Burton and we congratulate her. We are very lucky to have her at the helm of our little school.”
Mr John Harris from the education faculty at the University of New England nominated Mrs Burton for the award and said she was an outstanding example of the best in her profession.
“Belinda Burton is a teacher who has maximised the opportunities she encountered during her service of over 30 years as a classroom teacher and principal to make a lasting difference in the lives of those among whom she has worked,” he said.
“Her contribution extends far beyond the Catholic education system she has served. What has been quite exceptional is her determination and capacity to transform her clear vision on what education can be, in the fullest sense, into positive and impactful responses to real world issues.”
Mr Harris cited Mrs Burton’s ability to inspire others to follow her lead as one of the reasons she deserved the award.
“This quality has seen her school communities become actively involved in charitable initiatives that have directly supported those in need,” he said.
“Many of these initiatives have been channelled through the Mini Vinnies group at St Mary’s Armidale that Belinda has overseen for 10 years. Those benefiting from such creative projects include residents in local aged care facilities, the homeless, those adversely affected by natural events such as drought, floods and earthquakes, and under-resourced schools in the Pacific region and Africa. Consequently, her significant contribution extends well beyond her classrooms into the wider community.”
This is the second award Mrs Burton has received for excellence in her chosen career.
If you see a need – do something about itBelinda Burton
“In 2015 I received the Diocese of Armidale Award for outstanding achievement and contribution to Catholic education for ‘leadership’,” she said.
“I was very humbled to be nominated and receive this award,” Mrs Burton said.
“John Harris has known me since my teacher training at Armidale Teachers College and I have worked with the UNE and students doing education under John Harris. John is a well know in teacher education and I have had the privilege to be associated with him in the education field.”
Mrs Burton said she was grateful for the experience she has gained during her working life both teaching and leading.
“Throughout my teaching career I have had many opportunities to witness and serve in Catholic Education,” she said.
“I have taught all grades from kindergarten through to grade 6, and I have held many executive roles in my career: religious education coordinator, assistant principal, acting principal and principal. I have travelled to Indonesia, Philippines, Italy, Germany and Israel in the footsteps of the founders of Catholic Education in Australia and in the footsteps of the life of Jesus.”
Finally Mrs Burton strongly believes the following statement gives direction and empowers students to respond to real world issues.
“Serviam - to serve,” she said.
“If you see a need – do something about it. Treat others as you would like to be treated because every person is your brother or sister.”