Kate and ZaraTeacher Zara Parsons believes education can break walls and overcome barriers within schools.

The English teacher at Orewa College was this week named this year’s NEXT Expert Teacher Award as recognition of her high achievement in the Mind Lab’s Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning) and adapting her practice to bring value and inspiration to their peers and students.

Parsons was intent on breaking down the silos between English, P.E. and Maths subjects to enable students to work on these different areas while exploring key topics. She says approaching education in this way, with a fresh perspective, better prepares students for the future.

“One of the underlying changes to my teaching practice has been I’m focusing so much more on skills now, rather than knowledge content – because that’s how life works outside of school. Part of the way through The Mind Lab [programme] I got really inspired by how education can break walls and overcome barriers within schools.”

Parsons was joined in receiving a NEXT Expert Teacher Award, each worth $5,000, by Kate Divett, lead teacher of the Arts at Cashmere Primary Te Pae Kereru.

“When I consider the challenges of today’s education system I’ve been musing on the rate of change over the course of the past few years and even in my own lifetime,” says Divett.

She says children today live in digital world where soft skills, key competencies, relationship intelligence, and problem solving skills help to prepare students for the future and build successful, engaged participants in society.

Throughout her own learning journey Divett says she has been refining her practice, and is now collaborating with four other teachers to allow each to focus more on their passion and area of expertise and offer students more in the way of music, maths, Te Reo and writing.

NEXT Foundation CEO, Bill Kermode, says it’s wonderful to see the teachers commitment and enthusiasm to embrace technology.

“NEXT’s investment in this qualification aligns with our focus on teacher excellence – which ultimately enhances New Zealand children’s education,” he says.

Launched in 2014, NEXT Foundation has provided 1,350 teacher scholarships since 2017 to allow public school teachers to undertake The Mind Lab’s postgraduate programme. Since its inception in 2013, the Mind Lab has offered its programme in more than 30 locations around New Zealand, teaching one in four teachers around the country.


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