STEM Educator of the Year - School Teaching
Congratulations to the 2019 STEM Educator of the Year - School Teaching finalists.
Head of STEM, Seymour College
Sonya Arnold is a STEM leader with more than 15 years’ teaching experience in tertiary and secondary education.
She started her career as a computer systems engineer in defence, working on intrusion detection systems using artificial intelligence. She later started a PhD in Networking Protocols and moved into a lecturing position at the University of South Australia in network systems, artificial intelligence and programming. It was here that she developed her love of teaching and decided it was the career for her.
Ms Arnold was a mathematics coordinator with Henley High School before going on the become the Assistant Principal in STEM. During this time, she chaired the Western Area Secondary Schools Network for STEM education and won a Federal grant application of $50,000 towards digital technologies to develop computational and algorithmic thinking in students.
She was involved in developing the first ACARA STEM Connections project in conjunction with the Australian Association of Maths Teachers to develop integrated STEM units to increase student engagement in STEM.
She is now the Head of STEM at Seymour College, where she has rejuvenated the middle school curriculum.
Specialist STEM Teacher and Senior Leader, Hawthorndene Primary School
Anthea Ponte is a passionate science teacher with 17 years’ experience teaching middle school science and senior school biology. More recently, Ms Ponte has pursued her passion for science teaching and learning in primary science, working as a specialist STEM teacher, senior leader within the Mitcham Hills Partnership of Schools, and STEM Coordinator.
Working as a mentor alongside classroom teachers, Ms Ponte builds the confidence and capacity of her colleagues to develop and deliver excellence in STEM education.
Her application of exemplary inquiry-based pedagogy cultivates curiosity and analytical and innovative thinking in her students, helping them develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions to become agents of change in a diverse, rapidly evolving society.
Specialist Science Teacher, Stirling East Primary School
Sarah Finney is a passionate science, STEM, and year 3/4 teacher at Stirling East Primary School, where she has developed the science teaching culture and substantially increased participation in the state's Oliphant Science Awards by teaching science inquiry units.
Ms Finney regularly hosts scientists in the school to break down the walls and provide learning opportunities to her students. She believes that speaking and understanding the language of science provides students with the ability to navigate the future, the scariest and most exciting of all places to be.
Ms Finney considers STEM to be the most vital of all of the disciplines, and she enjoys sharing her ideas and assisting others to harness their own science ideas.
She has mentored both teachers at her school and undergraduate teachers, and is a SASTA mentor teacher. She has science and education degrees with honours in genetics and a Graduate Certificate in Inclusive Education.