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Teaching The University’s ‘youngest Students’ Wins National Award

She isn’t based in a classroom, yet the winner of a national teaching award is making a big impact on children’s learning.

Aimee Macaskill, the manager of the University of Auckland’s early childhood centres, was one of six selected nationwide to receive an ASG National Excellence in Teaching Award (NEiTA) from the Minister of Education, Hon. Chris Hipkins in Parliament on Friday.

Aimee oversees the day-to-day running of the University’s six childcare centres, including a Kohanga Reo and kohungahunga.

The award acknowledges the inspirational mentoring she provides to the leaders of those centres.

“I shifted from working with children to working with the adults who work with children. However the goal has always remained the same - to improve outcomes and create positive experiences,” says Aimee, who joined the University 18-months ago and has worked in early childhood education for 25 years.

“I’m really passionate about having great leadership in our centres. I try to create meaningful relationships with our centre leaders and understand deeply what’s going on in their lives professionally and personally so they are fully supported. You need happy and engaged staff to have happy and engaged children.”

Initially shocked to receive the award, Aimee says she is proud to shine any positive light on people working in ECE.

“We are often overlooked in favour of the primary and intermediate sectors, but the teaching we do is so important. The first five years sets the foundation for life,” Aimee says.

“I often say we work with the youngest enrolled University students. We are an integral part of the University community and having really great ECE centres means our academics, our professional staff and our students are able to perform at their best.”

The ASG (Australian Scholarships Group) NEiTA Awards honour New Zealand and Australia’s top educators for their inspiring and innovative contributions to teaching. The award comes with a $5000 prize for professional development.

The University’s Associate Director of Student Engagement & Wellbeing, Anne-Marie Parsons, says Aimee has built a reputation for being a strong leader who sees the potential in all people.

“She has brought with her not only a strong understanding of how to operate ECE, but the right attributes to get the most from our leaders, to harness their potential, ignite their passion and help them create truly remarkable centres,” Ms Parsons says.

“We are very lucky to have Aimee at the University of Auckland, and are very proud of her for receiving this much-deserved award.”

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