A passionate Maitland teacher's aide has been recognised nationally for her contribution to enhancing students' growth and wellbeing.
Michelle Whiting, a learning support officer at OneSchool Global, has been highly commended in the Australian Teacher Aide of the Year Awards.
The Aberglasslyn resident has worked for 15 years at the East Maitland school, playing a vital role in the classroom.
After a previous career working in a power plant and in a mine, Ms Whiting said she thought her dream of being a teacher had passed her by.
"All I ever wanted to be when I was growing up was a teacher, so to win an award like this on my 60th birthday was amazing. And I've got some good years left in me yet," Ms Whiting said.
After taking a few years off to have a family, she started helping out at her children's school which provided her an introduction to the world of education.
Ms Whiting joined OneSchool Global when it opened in 2008 and hasn't looked back.
"That was the first year of the primary school back then in 2008 and we had three demountables and an old building that we used sometimes. So much has changed, it is such a beautiful school now," she said.
"This school is a beautiful community, and the kids are gorgeous. I support every student in the school, and it is extremely rewarding work."
Ms Whiting helps to improve literacy in both primary and secondary school students by delivering the MacqLit program.
She was nominated by teacher Timothy Brennan, who praised her dedication to students' wellbeing.
"Michelle's dedication to professional growth to better support students is evident in her practice, and records of student achievement demonstrate a clear pattern of improvement at a rate which is well above what they would be able to achieve through their regular classes alone," he said.
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