Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Australia’s favourite teacher:

A teacher of English at a southwest Sydney school is named Australia's favourite teacher.
Date: December 14 2012
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Education Minister, Peter Garrett, was on the other side of a rock star welcome earlier in the week when he met with Australia's favourite teacher.

While Mr Garrett would have been well accustomed to such acclaim during his days with Midnight Oil, for English teacher Mark O'Connor it was a new experience.

Mr O'Connor won the prize as Australia's favourite teacher after Year 12 student Rebecca Knox of Wakeley's Mary MacKillop College in Sydney's southwest entered him in the contest, launched by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in October. Over six weeks, 20,000 people engaged in the contest to find Australia's favourite teacher - with entries from current students as well as those who left school 40 years ago. 

Rebecca said Mr O'Connor had inspired her to become a teacher also. She wrote in her entry form: “When I was struggling with my Extension 2 English major, Mr O'Connor was always willing to meet and provide helpful feedback, encouragement and advice. He even took personal time out of a weekend to accompany our class to an English conference. Mr O’Connor is not only an amazing educator but also became a friend, and he is one of the reasons I was inspired to go into teaching.”

"It's a very humbling experience," Mr O'Connor told the college's 991 students when he accepted the award from the Prime Minister.

"Being a favourite teacher is one thing but being a quality teacher is much more important."

Mr O'Connor said he was passionate about education because his mother had worked in a primary school.

"My brother and my sister-in-law are also both teachers," Mr O'Connor explained.

"My brother would argue that I'm not even the best teacher in the family, and he's probably right - his wife is a lot better than him."

Mr Garrett said students and parents understood the value of teaching.

"The single most important person, once you walk inside the school gate, is the teacher," he said.

"We know that effective, committed, dedicated teachers can make a fantastic impact on learning."

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