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WA Education Assistant of the Year 2018

Tamie Douglas, Aspiri Primary School

Soaring to new heights

Education assistants are highly valued in Western Australian public schools for the significant difference they can make in students’ lives and the support they give to teachers.  

But you may be hard-pressed to find anyone in early childhood education that has had such an extraordinary impact on young lives as Aspiri Primary School education assistant Tamie Douglas.

Like many great success stories, it was Tamie’s own childhood that paved the way for an incredible career.

Growing up was anything but ordinary, with some of her earliest memories of school echoing with the sounds of aircrafts overhead.

“My dad was a flight sergeant in the Royal Australian Airforce, so I grew up moving all around the world,” she says.

“Leaving my friends every few years wasn’t easy, but it gave me the confidence I needed to meet new people and adapt to different situations.”

The experience also led to an important lesson in compassion.

“It helped me to understand how children feel when they are new to the country, or a school or classroom, because I was that child,” she explains.

As English is the second language for many of Tamie’s students at Aspiri Primary School in Piara Waters, she is determined to reach them with different styles of teaching and learning.

“I love seeing children become confident and independent because they know they are in a safe, supportive environment where mistakes are seen as opportunities in learning,” she says.

“For me, to understand a child fully means to understand their whole family.”

It’s not surprising then that Tamie’s work goes far beyond the bell signalling the end of the school day.

She dedicates hours of her own time to finding new ways to be a successful education assistant and is passionate about sharing her knowledge with colleagues.

With more than a decade’s experience in supporting students with a range of different needs, Tamie has left a mark at every school she has been part of and has emphasised the importance of play-based learning throughout her career.

Developing several new initiatives, programs and partnerships, her work continues to have an impact on the academic, social and emotional development of students.

While at Aubin Grove Primary School in Perth’s southern suburbs, Tamie created ‘Pop-Up Play’ which brought together students from different year groups to spark their imaginations using recycled household items.

She was also part of the school’s early childhood education committee and was instrumental in establishing a nature playground that could develop students’ social skills, oral language and risk assessment.

Since joining Aspiri Primary School in 2018 in its foundation year, Tamie hit the ground running and took on various leadership roles.

As the school’s early childhood advocate, she works alongside the deputy principal to coordinate various programs and learning opportunities for staff.

At a grassroots level, Tamie developed an oral language intervention program for at-risk students and a set of resources which she uses in classrooms, working shoulder-to-shoulder with teachers and other education assistants.

Her impact goes beyond her school community, with Tamie volunteering her own time to run professional learning for education assistants and teachers at other schools in Perth.

While working full-time, Tamie is also studying part-time a Bachelor of Education in early childhood indicating there is no sign of this year’s WA Education Assistant of the Year slowing down any time soon.

“I don’t want to come to school every day knowing that I’m not making a difference,” Tamie says.


WA Education Assistant of the Year 2018

Education assistants are valued members of the school team, they are supportive and encouraging. They make a real difference to student's lives, contributing to classroom learning and enabling students to achieve their best.

Proudly sponsored by Perth Energy.

Winner:

  • Tamie Douglas, Aspiri Primary School

Finalists:

  • Sharmila Clissold, Harmony Primary School
  • Coral Parrett, East Narrogin Primary School
  • Cassandra Wilson, Dawul Remote Community School