Whatever the future holds, Donna Buckley is doing her best to ensure we’re ready for it.
The John Curtin College of the Arts teacher is encouraging students to take a mathematic approach to solving real-world problems.
This week, her efforts were recognised when she received the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools, in the 2023 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.
Ms Buckley is the college’s assistant director of mathematics. She also looks for opportunities to introduce students to potential future careers in science and is the school’s cybersecurity teacher.
Ms Buckley said it was an honour to receive the prize.
“It validates the work we’ve been doing to put mathematics on the map,” she said.
“John Curtin College of the Arts has nearly 2,000 students with a passion for the arts. I’m here to inspire and engage our students by connecting mathematics to their passions and the real-world.
“When students apply mathematics to real-world problems that are of interest to them, the results are just amazing.”
The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science recognise the role primary and secondary school educators play in inspiring and encouraging students to take an interest and consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Ms Buckley is entrenched in communities that focus on learning about and promoting the importance and opportunities involving mathematics and cybersecurity.
She introduced an annual maths talent quest to Western Australia, which encourages students to think creatively about mathematical problems. She also established an accredited cybersecurity course in Western Australia to educate the next generation about ways to make our country safer and more secure in an online environment.
She said that her best professional development over 25 years of teaching has been the Maths Book Club she runs. She said it gives her the chance to learn from the best communicators of mathematics, science and technology from around the world.
Her principal, Travis Vladich, nominated Ms Buckley for the prize.
He said she goes to extraordinary lengths to interest and instruct her students in maths.
“As a puzzle lover, she introduced cryptographic lessons to promote pure mathematics,” he said.
“Ms Buckley also taps into community concerns and resources to ensure that the maths she is teaching is meaningful to her students.
“She has influenced STEM thinking and concepts for teachers and students throughout Western Australia. She has taken on responsibilities with cybersecurity and local, state and national projects and initiatives.”
“Ms Buckley is very active in building creativity through STEM and I rely on her passion.”