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Linking Minds awards 2007

Media Release

To: All Education Reporters

Date: 21 November 2007

Linking Minds awards 2007

Linking Minds is a prestigious international award for young teachers sponsored by the British Council, NZ-UK Link Foundation, Ministry of Education and New Zealand Teachers Council. The award focus is on professional leadership, and aims to promote high teaching standards by providing international experience for teachers early in their careers.

Teachers Council Director, Dr Peter Lind, believes that “by helping sponsor this scholarship, the Council is sending a clear message to the profession – young teachers have the potential to take on significant leadership roles. It is important that they are nurtured and supported to develop their potential through initiatives such as this one.”

The 2007 award funded four New Zealand teachers to spend two weeks over the September holiday period attached to a South Gloucestershire Local Authority in the UK. Their programme provided opportunities to gain ideas, skills and confidence to develop leadership capacity for the teachers as individuals and for their schools.

The selection panel this year faced an especially difficult job due to the high quality of applicants. Jill Page was the Teachers Council representative on the selection panel. Her overall impression of the candidates was of an inspiring group of talented early career teachers, motivated and keen to make a difference in the lives of the students they teach. She stated that the chosen recipients “have their collective eyes on the big picture.” She was impressed with the way in which they see the organisational structures associated with schools in a positive light, particularly in terms of how they might develop positive changes in meeting student and community needs.

The 2007 Linking Minds recipients are:

Melinda Bennett of Ahuroa School near Warkworth, Tom Haig of Nayland College in Nelson, Karen Stimson of Henderson High School and Greg Thornton of Manurewa High School.
In only her fourth year of teaching Melinda took sole charge of tiny Ahuroa School near Warkworth. In her 18 months there she has turned around the school’s performance, including the lifting of its statutory management, and expanded the roll into what is now a two teacher school.

Tom Haig is national convenor of the PPTA’s young and new teachers’ network, and is involved in his high school’s future vision ‘ten years out’. He is in his third year of teaching.

Karen Stimson is Dean of ‘flexi’ learning at her high school and has grown the stature of the programme within both the school and the wider education community. Karen wants to make Henderson High the “school to google” on best practice and new philosophies on individualised learning.

Greg Thornton was appointed Head of Department – Mathematics of his large secondary school after four years of teaching. He has an excellent ‘umbrella’ view of education and displays leadership in all aspects of his profession.

The awards will be available to early career teachers again in 2008.

For further information contact Director, Dr Peter Lind at or


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