Love of language helps students stay on track

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Broome Senior High School head of English Denise Shillinglaw won this year's Kate Mullin Teacher Award.
Camera IconBroome Senior High School head of English Denise Shillinglaw won this year's Kate Mullin Teacher Award. Credit: Jakeb Waddell.

It would be difficult to find another teacher as passionate and humble as this award winner.

Broome Senior High School head of English Denise Shillinglaw was named the recipient of the Kate Mullin Teacher Award recently, an annual State prize handed to an educator who has improved literacy outcomes for indigenous students.

Ms Shillinglaw helped to introduce the English as an Additional Language or Dialect course when she arrived at the school 12 years ago, which has seen Aboriginal graduation numbers surge from a handful to more than 30 each year since its establishment.

Ms Shillinglaw held back tears as she spoke about her win with the Broome Advertiser and said she was incredibly honoured.

“Teachers are not great at getting compliments when they do a good job and I guess I’m another example,” she said.

“There are many proud moments as a teacher, but for me graduation is the proudest one.

“Watching these kids get up on stage and finish school after you have seen them almost drop out and turn inappropriate behaviours around is so rewarding.”

Ms Shillinglaw said other measures within the school, such as the Clontarf and Broome Girls Academies, had fed off each other to improve graduation numbers.

BSHS principal Mathew Burt said Ms Shillinglaw had applied a strategic approach to indigenous learning that had changed staff attitudes and the direction of the school.

“The impact Denise has made in the classroom, as a leader and throughout the community, will have a lasting impact as we continue to see improvement and will do for years to come,” he said.

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