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Teacher Achievement Award Winners

Integrated Program

Melanie Brooks

VCAL Provider – Lakeview Senior College

Melanie accepting the award from the Minister

Melanie Brooks with The Hon. James Merlino

When Melanie joined Lakeview Senior College as a teacher in 2017, most Year 11 students were enrolled in Foundation certificates and most Year 12 students were enrolled in Intermediate certificates. Melanie observed that the certificate levels did not correspond with the students’ academic abilities. She found out that the students were not enrolled in higher certificate levels because they had difficulty obtaining enough credits in the program structure.

After much research and discussion with students, parents, VCAL teachers and VET providers, Melanie led the implementation of a new structure for the school’s VCAL program. The new structure gives students the opportunity to undertake several extra VCAL units. It also enables them to engage in structured workplace learning through the VCAL small business program, while being encouraged and mentored by staff and industry leaders.

Melanie has worked hard to provide the students with opportunities to integrate learning outcomes from several VCAL units. She has done this to help students attain the highest certificate level they can and develop skills they can transfer to their career or higher education pathway.

Integrated Program

Kerryn Katal

VCAL Provider – Assumption College, Kilmore

Kerryn accepting the award from the Minister

Kerryn Katal with The Hon. James Merlino

Kerryn is an experienced VCAL teacher who led Intermediate and Foundation students in an integrated, community based project to build a woodfired pizza oven for the school.

Kerryn facilitated the project, from the planning, design and construction stages, through to testing and operating the oven. The team called on outside expertise and community connections to help them learn basic bricklaying skills (a local bricklayer), build the base (the Men’s Shed) and source the frame and scaffolding (a local supplier). They also had assistance from school maintenance staff and a Technology assistant. Much of the focus was also on using recycled materials.

With this project, Kerryn demonstrated her excellent understanding of VCAL’s purpose and strands. The project integrated multiple strands, allowing students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in:

  • Literacy – making phone calls to community networks and writing newsletter articles, thank you letters and journal reflections
  • Numeracy – designing and taking measurements, making and following a budget, and working out the temperature and time to cook the pizzas
  • Personal Development Skills – working in a team, leading, communicating, planning, organising, decision-making, problem-solving, managing a project and building external partnerships
  • Work Related Skills – identifying hazards, following safe working conditions, and identifying and solving common work problems.

One of Kerryn’s most valuable attributes as project leader was her ability to identify and cater for students’ strengths so they could all contribute and be proud of their achievements. She supported and challenged them to practically explore their learning outcomes.

Kerryn’s ability to lead and mentor other staff who were new to VCAL and unsure of how to run an integrated project was essential to her success. Kerryn has set a high standard for running an integrated project, showing how students can demonstrate their learning from multiple VCAL strands in the one project.

Integrated Program

Don Elliott

VCAL Provider – Holmesglen Vocational College, Moorabbin.

Don accepting the award from the Minister

Don Elliott with The Hon. James Merlino

Don developed the innovative Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV) program, which provides an opportunity for VCAL Engineering and Electrotechnology students to design, construct and race an electric-powered vehicle. A feature of the program is that students can compete in the Energy Breakthough, a four-day event that includes a 24-hour endurance race, in Maryborough, Victoria, in November.

Don designed the EEV program to make use of the cutting-edge facilities and expertise at Holmesglen and to achieve the broadest possible outcomes for students. The students work with engineering and electrotechnology professionals to design and construct all vehicle components. This includes welding, designing and building the 12/36 volt wiring looms, assembling the battery, motor control, braking and safety systems, and installing a two-way radio and GPS. Each element is informed by the principles of sustainability, with the aim to produce an electric vehicle that can travel the greatest distance using the least energy.

Don created a collaborative environment where other students from the VCAL program can get involved and support their peers. For example, students who chose Street Art as their VCAL industry stream used their skills to design, spray and paint the vehicle shells. Similarly, VCAL Hospitality students and staff provided catering for the team during the four days in Maryborough.

Holmesglen’s VCAL program is tailored to each student’s interests. Students can enrol in units from two different industry certificates in a single semester, and Don has been at the forefront of promoting this aspect of the program. He has recognised that students who gain experience in multiple and varied industry areas are better informed when making pathway decisions beyond VCAL.

To date, the Holmesglen EEV program team is the only VCAL entrant in the Energy Breakthrough. This is a huge achievement for the students and not only builds their industry knowledge but enhances their communication, leadership and teamwork skills. The EEV program is a benchmark for VCAL delivery at the school and a testament to Don’s dedication and innovative spirit.

Team Teaching

Hannah Studd and Denise Walker

VCAL Provider – MacKillop Specialist School, Geelong

Denise accepting the award from the Minister

L-R Hannah Studd and Denise Walker
with The Hon. James Merlino

Hannah and Denise work as a team to plan and deliver the integrated VCAL program at MacKillop Specialist School. Both teachers have a strong sense of social justice, and advocate for all students to be able to have a voice. They have ensured that all students can participate, removing any barriers that stood in the way.

The school’s VCAL program, which was in its first year of operation, was described by the VCAL Quality Assurance Panel as ‘exemplary’. In recognition of their outstanding work, Hannah and Denise were asked to present their work at a VCAL Quality Assurance Professional Development Day.

Hannah and Denise guided the VCAL students through the Bitter Sweet Café project, in which the students created and ran a cafe at school. The teachers carefully designed the project to give the students opportunities to expand their hospitality skills, experience success in their learning, increase their confidence, and develop their social and emotional learning by working in a team.

Denise and Hannah empowered the students to make decisions, getting them to vote on the cafe name and to design and create the logo, furniture and signage as a group. They arranged for the students to complete Level 1 Barista certificates and learn about safe food handling and preparation.

The teachers enabled the students to develop and maintain a herb and vegetable garden for the cafe. Coffee grounds from the cafe were used to fertilise and improve the soil. Food scraps were used for the school’s chickens and worm farm, minimising waste.

The Bitter Sweet Café ran every Thursday throughout Terms 2 and 3. Denise and Hannah ensured that the students experienced a variety of roles, such as barista, front-of-house manager, food runner, drink runner, food preparer, head cook, statistician and dishwasher.

The introduction of the cafe led to a marked increase in student attendance, selfconfidence and teamwork skills, as well as teaching students basic hospitality skills, which helped them find part-time work.

VCAL Teacher of the Year

Presented by the Victorian Applied Learning Association

Melanie Brooks

VCAL Provider – Lakeview Senior College

Melanie accepting the award from the Minister

Melanie Brooks with Helene Rooks, VALA CEO

When Melanie began teaching VCAL Business students, she wanted to deliver the course in a practical and engaging way that allowed students to run their own business while gaining valuable employability skills. After much brainstorming and research, the students came up with the idea of a VCALCoffee Cart and Catering Business.

Melanie harnessed the students’ enthusiasm and guided them in developing their business model. They worked with tradespeople to design and build the coffee cart, became trained baristas and learnt about coffee farming and processing. Coffees were sold to staff and students before school and during lunch breaks.

When the business started to make money, Melanie taught the students how to complete profit and loss statements. Soon they were ready to branch out into food, so Melanie arranged for them to work with the Food Technology teacher to master some recipes. As more products sold, their confidence grew.

Students began tendering to cater for events and marketing the business with lookbooks, vision boards, finger food menus and food samples. Melanie organised a tour of some thriving cafes to give the students further ideas.

The Coffee Cart and Catering Business has been part of a range of events including:

  • an Anzac Day commemoration at the local retirement village
  • a 1980s-themed cafe over three nights during the school musical production
  • high tea at an art exhibition at the local library
  • catering for a luncheon celebrating Education Support Week.