Less than 3% of NZ primary school teachers have the privilege to be recognised as being an advanced classroom expertise teacher (ACET) and receive a yearly grant for their efforts.
Catlins Area School teacher Emma Longmore is now one of the 800 primary school teachers, from a total primary teaching population of about 30,000, who has this qualification.
Mrs Longmore heads the science department at the school, and said the subject had been a lifelong passion.
“I had an awesome science teacher when I was in school,” she said.
“He encouraged me to really get involved with the topic. If I hadn’t become a teacher I would have gone into science.
“This way I get to do both.”
But passion was not enough to acquire the ACET standard. The ACET allowance was introduced as part of the settlement of the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement 2013-2016 (PTCA) to recognise exemplary practise in primary teaching. This involved joining the Science Teaching Leadership Programme managed by the Royal Society Te Aparangi and funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
It required more than a year of scientific research in the field, study behind the desk, passing on newfound knowledge in the classroom, and collating evidence of Mrs Longmore’s contribution to the learning of her pupils.
The Catlins Area School principal Kate Staniford said the school was proud of Mrs Longmore’s achievement.
“She had to prove her work has had a positive impact on “all learners”. And she has done that,” she said.
“You can’t match her contribution to the children.”
Mrs Longmore worked with groups such as Forest and Bird out in the field and brought her findings back to the children in her classes so they could learn about conservation efforts alongside a number of other disciplines.
She said her ambition was to imbue her pupils with the ability to think critically about the information they were receiving.
“That’s what science is all about.
“Especially with the internet these days it is harder and harder for people without training to know what is real and what isn’t.”
But it was also fulfilling to be furthering her own education.
“This experience has added a dimension to my life and my career. There is never an end point to learning.”