Hawkesdale College teacher Anne Mirtschin has been named among the world’s best educators.
The teacher of 30 years was the only Australian in a group of six global winners awarded the international Making IT Happen award for outstanding achievement in digital learning.
The award was presented by the International Society of Technology Education (ISTE) at its annual conference in San Antonio last month.
Mrs Mirtschin was chosen from 20,000 entries which she admits is outstanding considering the location of her classroom.
“This is a school of 220.” she said. “We don’t even have mobile phone service out here so I think its rather amazing that someone from one of these small schools could get one of these big awards.”
She is still unaware of who nominated her for the award.
“It was a complete surprise to me,” she said. “It’s a really prestigious award.”
Mrs Mirtschin teaches Information Technology (IT), Business Management and Accounting at Hawkesdale P12 College.
She admits her motivation is keeping her students abreast of world standards.
“I’m passionate about rural education. Our children should have as much opportunity as city students despite the cultural and geographical barriers,” she said.
“And technology lets us do that.”
As a farmer’s wife and longtime Hawkesdale resident, Mrs Mirtschin is using rural tools to teach international skills.
“Most of my business management students come from farms themselves and they export a lot of their beef to the Middle East but that’s all they know of that area, and what they hear in the media,” she said.
“We were able to learn to speak a bit of basic Arabic from connecting with a teacher in Saudi Arabia and we now have a greater understanding of our markets which I think is terribly important.”
The inspiration for connecting in real time came from her own personal experiences.
“When our children lived overseas we learnt the value of instant messaging,” she said. “We could see each other and talk to each other in real time and I thought that would be a great tool in the classroom.”
Mrs Mirtschin regularly converses internationally.
“What I do is a lot of connections with expert speakers around the world,” she said. “The kids will Skype and video conference in real time and learn about students from the students themselves.”
“We really have made the world our classroom.”