5 Oct 2023

Judith Terkelsen

The Dr Joe McCorley OAM Outstanding Contribution to School Community Award

Judith Terkelsen

Judith Terkelsen’s collaborative work with the local community delivers important educational services for children under her care at Goodstart Early Learning Pialba. Through a partnership with Royal Far West’s allied health specialists, Judith has enabled access to specialist services for 31 children and their families. They can access onsite screening and telehealth services with professionals, including speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, and clinical psychologists.

Teaching for the past 27 years, Judith’s previous connections on Bundjalung Country in southern Queensland and northern NSW, led her to adopt a Butchulla Country Elder, who is also an artist and teacher. The kindergarten students’ learning has included the Three Butchulla Lores, which have been shared and explained by the Elder. Judith has expanded on children’s literacy and numeracy learning in a culturally respectful way, through inclusion of various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resources. The partnership has also inspired art projects, including children’s interpretations of Caring for Country and Australia’s endangered animals.

Another partnership she has introduced is with the local Men’s Shed. One of their projects has involved students helping build garden beds for native grasses, bush tucker, vegetables, and herb gardens. Judith has also implemented a transition to school program in vital partnership with nine local schools. This includes planned conversations with families and school teams and visits from the schools to the kindergarten, with a focus on continuity of learning and important connections for children transitioning to prep. Each child has a transition to school action plan with identified strengths, interests, needs and strategies.

Judith’s community and educational work across northern NSW and Queensland has been recognised with several esteemed awards, including a Rotary Foundation of Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow in 2004 and a Medal of the Order of Australia General Division in 2011.
Her teaching is inspired by the quote, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ because expanding the ‘village’ offers opportunities for a great breadth of learning and positive community connections. She says her most satisfying accomplishments have been building on deeper community connections, understanding Aboriginal ways of knowing, and being in partnership with the adopted Butchulla Elder and families. This has supported the children in her care to build respect for the environment in which they live, grow, play, and learn.

In her nomination, colleagues wrote:
“Judith’s pedagogy exhibits a targeted focus on community connections to support inclusion, sustainability and reconciliation.”

Tags: TeachX > 2023 > Community > Winner