A WEST Belfast teacher has been honoured with a prestigious teaching award. Pat Bennett, who has taught Art at St Gerard’s Educational Research Centre on the Upper Springfield Road for the past 36 years, was given The Ted Wragg Award for Lifetime Achievement in the 2012 Pearson Teaching Awards.
Pat will now go on to represent the North in a gala awards ceremony in London in June where she will compete with for the overall Ted Wragg Award.
Speaking about her accolade, Pat said she was “absolutely thrilled and absolutely stunned”.
“My colleagues Julian Morgan and Fionnuala Saunders nominated me without telling me,” she explained.
“They submitted the form and forgot about it until last week when I was told by the Principal that I had received the award. If someone had said to me when I graduated from St Mary’s that I would be teaching for 36 years I would have said they were daft.
“I absolutely love teaching at St Gerard’s and I love our children. Everything is different every day here.”
The Pearson Teaching Awards celebrate the vital contribution made by teachers, teaching assistants and head teachers.
Explaining why Pat was of for the Ted Wragg Award, the judging panel said in their comments: “With her tremendous passion for Art, coupled with her very obvious passion for the welfare of all her pupils, Pat Bennett has brought the teaching of Art to those with learning difficulties to a whole new level.
“For many of her former pupils, particularly those who have experienced difficult circumstances in their lives, she has made a tremendous and life-changing difference.
“She has pioneered extremely successful work with the local Sharing Education Programme (SEP), collaborating with Park Special School on the Ravenhill Road, using state of the art video conferencing facilities to share best practice and also helping break down religious barriers among children whose families are from different ends of the religious spectrum.
“Her colleagues say that nothing is too much trouble for Pat if it contributes towards the learning experiences of her pupils and promoting the good name of the school.
“She has had a lasting influence on so many children over the course of her career, a fact that is apparent from the many pupils who return to visit even 20 years later.
“She is a passionate and dedicated professional who is truly loved and admired in her school community,” added the judges.