Darren McSwaine is the Gold Coast’s best secondary teacher as voted by state school principals across the city.
The Southern Cross University alumnus proved that his commitment to curriculum development and engagement with students at Elanora State High School was top-notch, claiming the coveted Teacher of the Year title at the recent Teachers Ball.
Mr McSwaine said almost 20 state schools from Ormeau South to Coolangatta all nominated their best teacher, who then went on to be shortlisted and interviewed ahead of the award ceremony.
The ‘Teacher of the Year title was officially awarded by the Secondary Principals’ Alliance Gold Coast Australia, and included a $5000 winning bursary.
“Each principal nominates a teacher from their school from all the secondary state schools on the Gold Coast,” Mr McSwaine said.
“It is set out like a job interview and the two criteria we had to discuss was our curriculum development and our engagement and professional relationships with students.”
As the current Dean of Students and year 10 coordinator, while still teaching a handful of maths classes, Mr McSwaine said he was thankful for the training he received as a student himself at Southern Cross University, graduating with a Graduate Diploma of Education in 2006 – now offered as a two-year Masters course via distance education.
Mr McSwaine has been at Elanora State High School since 2008, after one year at Wollumbin High School in Northern NSW.
“What I love most about my job is seeing kids succeed,” said Mr McSwaine, whose dual roles focus on student welfare, behaviour and discipline.
“I cannot stand bullying of any sort and work very hard to make sure every student enjoys school and feels safe and included in my learning environments.
“This year particularly I have been working with kids who are on the down and out – kids who have been in and out of foster care or who are disengaged and very misbehaved.
“Even seeing the progress from the start of this year until now has been astonishing. There are kids who were always in trouble who are now on their way to finishing and passing year 10.”
Mr McSwaine coached this year’s Elanora Open Rugby League team, which finished fifth in the Titans challenge.
He has also worked with local police through Project Booyah, which he hopes will be reinstated with renewed funding for disengaged youth on the southern end of the Gold Coast.
“There are kids who come through such as pro skateboarder Mikey Mendoza who missed two years of school when he was younger, but came back and reengaged and even became a school leader by the end,” Mr McSwaine said.
“I was his form teacher and watched as he used his success at school to get him where he needed to be. He has gone on to become a Red Bull professional skateboarder.”
Elanora State High Principal Cameron Hodges said the success of Mr McSwaine represented the wider positive ethos of the proud co-educational state school.
“The staff, parents and students of Elanora State High School are working closely to improve the educational outcomes for all,” he said.
“This teacher award given to Mr McSwaine is proof our staff are committed to providing the best education the Gold Coast has to offer.
“This is an exciting year for Elanora SHS with the launch of our Xcelerate program for talented local primary school students and our expanding partnership with Southern Cross University.
“Our school focus is on providing your child with the skills and knowledge to make a successful transition to their preferred post school options.”
Darren McSwaine was also the founding coordinator of the Maths element of the Xcelerate program for students in Year 6 in his district.