$25,000 Catholic education research fellowship up for grabs

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Inaugural fellowship recipient Mark Gronow with 2016 winner Zeina Chalich at the fellowship presentation in November 2015.
Inaugural fellowship recipient Mark Gronow with 2016 winner Zeina Chalich at the award presentation in November 2015.

It is the Catholic education research grant that enabled one Sydney teacher to further his studies into the ‘death spiral’ of mathematics education, and inspired a second to continue trailblazing Makerspace in her primary school.

Entries are open now for the third annual Br John Taylor Fellowship, worth $25,000.

Offered by the Catholic Education Commission NSW (CECNSW), the fellowship provides a travel grant to applicants involved in Catholic schools or associated bodies who can make a valuable contribution to Catholic education.

“The fellowship was established in 2013 to promote excellence from within the teaching profession,” CECNSW chairman Bishop Peter Comensoli said at the launch on 25 August.

“This is very much about experienced educators taking the lead and identifying areas of research they feel will enhance teaching, particularly in the Catholic context.”
Committed teachers helped to create great students, he said.

“In fact, research shows that an inspiring and informed teacher is the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement.

“So it’s important that we encourage experienced and insightful educators to share their knowledge with their fellow teachers.”

Inaugural recipient Mark Gronow, a mathematics teacher and academic, used the grant to attend education conferences in the United States, United Kingdom and around Australia after discovering that a deep understanding of the structure of mathematics might be as foreign to some teachers as it is students.

“My research is looking at how we can reassess our teaching, making mathematics real and alive to kids,” Mark told The Catholic Weekly last September.

“I’m looking at how well teachers actually understand that.”

Teacher and leader of learning and innovation at St Finbar’s primary school Zeina Chalich was awarded the 2016 fellowship to continue her research into ways to promote problem-solving skills among students.

“Our students didn’t know how to think creatively,” she said as she accepted her prize in November 2015. “Can we teach creative thinking?”

The fellowship honours Christian Brother John Taylor and his lifelong dedication to education and the ideals of equity and access.

“John made his mark on NSW education over three decades as a teacher, principal and as executive director of CECNSW,” he said.

“The fellowship that carries his name is an opportunity to honour his legacy and enable somebody involved in Catholic schooling to produce lasting research that can make a difference for generations of students and teachers.”

Applications for the 2016 Brother John Taylor Fellowship close on 30 September. Apply online at cecnsw.catholic.edu.au.