News & Events


Annual Catholic Education Awards recognise excellence in teaching and learning


Nine educators, including one from Caritas College, Port Augusta, have been recognised at the annual Catholic Education Awards ceremony on May 18.

The Awards – which are celebrated as part of Catholic Education Week (May 15 – 21 2023) – recognise outstanding achievements and contributions by staff and volunteers across South Australia’s 101 Catholic schools.

The awardees are those whose efforts are beyond the already high standards of education and care delivered by all those involved in Catholic education. Through their commitment, these people will have made a difference in the lives of students or others with whom they come into contact as they carry out their responsibilities in Catholic education.

The awards were presented at an event at the Hilton Adelaide, attended by Professor Denis Ralph, Chair, South Australian Commission for Catholic Schools, and the Honourable Katrine Hildyard MP, Minister for Child Protection following a Mass at St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral, Wakefield Street led by Archbishop Patrick O’Regan.

One of the awards was presented by Liz Keogh, Deputy Director Catholic Education, Diocese of Port Pirie.

The awards were presented across seven categories including:

Early Career Teacher (< five years)
Experienced Teacher (> six years)
Education Support                 
Volunteer Supporter
Innovative Program
Leadership/Lifelong Contribution
Laudato Si

“These awards shine a light on the incredible passion of our staff and volunteers. The Awardees demonstrate the extraordinary outcomes that can be achieved when people are dedicated and passionate about teaching and learning,” says John Foley, Assistant Director, Catholic Education South Australia.

“At Catholic Education South Australia we really care about our students – we’re keen to see every young person in our schools thrive. Each of these recipients is a wonderful example of the unwavering commitment to Catholic education shown by staff and volunteers in our 101 school communities across the State.”

Full citations for each of the recipients can be found on the Catholic Education SA Awards website.

Congratulations to all the award recipients:

Jared Centenera, Saint Ignatius’ College
Early Career Teacher (Primary)

An early year's educator at Saint Ignatius’ College, Jared Centenera’s dedication to his students and the teaching profession is truly inspiring.

As a Lead Teacher in literacy, he invests in his own professional development, including financing his own training at the Institute for Multisensory Language Education (IMSLE).

Jared generously shares resources, provides mentoring opportunities, and models best practice for other teachers. He invites his peers to visit during his lessons to witness his students love of learning and makes himself available to mentor others to adopt a similar pedagogical approach to teaching.

Not only has Jared made significant improvements in his own classroom, but he has also shared his learning with his peers and has been instrumental in supporting changes to literacy practice across the junior primary classrooms at St Ignatius.

Nathan O’Brien, Caritas College
Early Career Teacher (Secondary)

Nathan O'Brien has been acknowledged for his outstanding contributions as a secondary educator at Caritas College.

Despite only teaching since 2020, Nathan has become a leader in his field in addition to his teaching excellence.

As a teacher of Maths, Science, Physics and STEM to students across Years 7 to 12, Nathan is committed to meeting the needs of his students both academically and emotionally. He designs engaging and accessible learning activities and assessments around student interests and career pathways and provides extra support to ensure his students succeed in all their subjects.

Nathan’s calm, supportive, and genuine nature is admired by staff and students alike. Students admire his passion for what he teaches, as well as his friendly disposition and helpfulness. Nathan has taught his students not only to overcome academic challenges but also to overcome stress and be more comfortable in how they respond to challenges.

With a previous career in science communication at a university, Nathan has shared his gifts to improve opportunities for students and staff at Caritas College.

Madeline Cole, St Michael’s College
Experienced Teacher (Primary)

Madeline’s colleagues describe the Early Years Primary Coordinator as an exemplary educator who has unrivalled enthusiasm and a genuine willingness to support students, staff, and the wider community at all times. 

Informed through her trauma training, Madeline was instrumental in the implementation of the Positive Behaviour Management process at the College, making a positive difference in the lives of young learners.

Madeline worked tirelessly to support both students through the successful transition of girls into the college. Her GEM Mentoring Program for the first cohort of girls at the primary campus, developed in conjunction with a colleague, enabled Year 9 girls to attend the primary campus regularly as ‘Big Sisters’ helping the primary girls to feel a sense of belonging in the St Michael’s community.

Above all, it is Madeline’s energy, enthusiasm and genuine drive for children and education that makes her presence at St Michael’s College so impactful. She truly embodies the mission and values of Catholic education and constantly strives to make a difference in the lives of the students she teaches through challenge, compassion, and care.

Ruth Taylor, Thomas More College
Experienced Teacher (Secondary)

An innovative Assistant Principal of Religious Identity & Mission, Ruth has worked in Catholic education for 22 years.

Through observing a lack of school engagement in some students in need of a sense of family, Ruth researched and developed a bespoke program for disengaged students in Years 8 – 11 for whom school attendance, engagement, achievement and a sense of belonging had been a challenge.

The program has provided a space in the college where students can feel a sense of belonging and safety, aided by the introduction of regular activities such as breakfast for those who require it, meditation, talk therapy and additional fitness opportunities. This has led to a sizable increase in student attendance and engagement.

Ruth has also re-structured a timetable which has students seeing fewer teachers in one day, allowing for deeper relationships to be forged between teacher and learner and targeted learning based on the students’ interest areas. She has ensured that a strong Indigenous perspective is infused across the campus with a focus on students being connected spiritually and developing a deep understanding of themselves.

Ruth has intentionally sought to enhance family connections, communicating daily with each family of any student who requires support. Ruth constantly strives to provide links to future pathways for students, including the early commencement of SACE to enable students to be on their optimum pathway towards a SACE Certificate.

James Lodge, Saint Ignatius’ College
Education Support

James Lodge has been a valued staff member at Saint Ignatius’ College for over 20 years. His primary role is that of Laboratory Manager where he provides exemplary service to the staff and students within the Science Department.

However James’ contributions to the life of the College goes well beyond this work, most notably through the College immersion program. Spanning over nine trips, James has supported students to take part in a two-week immersion with First Nation peoples on Bathurst Island or Daly River where students conduct science lessons in the local schools with equipment organised by James, immerse themselves in the community and learn more about indigenous culture and themselves.

James demonstrates a real care for, and willingness to learn from, the First Nations people of Bathurst Island and Daly River and he has developed strong ties with the local community. 

James is well regarded throughout the whole College for his positive and life-giving connections with staff, students and families, as well as the Bathurst Island and Daly River communities in the Northern Territory.

James’ devotion and commitment to the staff and students at the College far exceeds the expectations of his role and thousands of students have benefited from James’ service to the school community.

Louisa Scopacasa, Our Lady Queen of Peace School

For over ten years, Louisa Scopacasa has actively volunteered at Our Lady Queen of Peace School. She first joined the school’s Parents and Friends (P&F) Committee in 2013 and has actively participated in P&F events since, contributing substantially to all school events with a focus on making each one special for children and families.

Louisa has been known to regularly share and use her mantra “it’s all for the children”. This approach has driven her to support the school, volunteer her time, and give the very best service to all.

Louisa’s contribution has seen her source resources for the events using her broader community connections and spending countless hours of her own time ensuring events are well organised and run smoothly for everyone to enjoy.

Her commitment to running the second-hand uniform shop has ensured that no child goes without a clean and neat uniform and no family feels shame in the struggle to clothe their child. This has had a profound effect on the spirit of the school community. 

Louisa’s dedication and faith has ensured that faith has been the centrepiece of community events. Louisa actively demonstrates how as a community, Our Lady Queen of Peace School can continue to live out the Mercy values of the school’s founders, Sister Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy.

Graduate Program - Kildare College
Innovative Program

Kildare College's Graduate Program is a research based, innovative and high-impact approach that supports early career teachers’ transition to become competent, capable and dynamic professionals.

The locally developed program is built upon the College's core values, extensive research and is aligned with the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) framework. It enables graduates to develop their pedagogical knowledge and skills consistently and sequentially.

The program promotes ongoing development of graduates through a focus on self-reflection and professional conversations. Teachers are empowered to take ownership of their learning and personal growth, resulting in enhanced instructional strategies, classroom management skills, and student-teacher relationships.

The program prioritises a focus on reflective practice, peer observation, and mentorship, ensuring graduates receive regular feedback on their impact on student outcomes and are empowered to affect change. It has been highly effective in developing the graduates’ confidence and competence as teachers and has the potential to be adopted in other Catholic education schools, further underscoring its impact and innovation in education.

Susan Young
Leadership / Lifelong Contribution

Susan recently retired from the position of Assistant Director: People, Leadership and Culture at Catholic Education South Australia (CESA) after 35 years of exemplary leadership and witness to the mission of Catholic education.

Susan’s long and sustained contribution demonstrates her support of the vision, mission, values and purpose of Catholic Education South Australia. Throughout her career as a teacher, music consultant, deputy principal, principal, principal consultant and assistant director, Susan has been an influential and inspirational trailblazer for female leaders. 

Her passion, love of music, leadership strengths and ability to coach, challenge and support colleagues were always underpinned by Susan’s drive to provide the best Catholic education for children and young people.

Susan’s system leadership, contributions and achievements were always underpinned by clear vision and a drive for change. Her influence is still evident via many initiatives and programs she was involved in.

Throughout her career, Susan has made her mark in many areas of policy, process, system initiatives and culture, but she will be remembered for her strength of character and love of people, with an ability to listen, coach and mentor.

Nick Mezzino, St Thomas School and Preschool
Laudato Si

Experienced educator Nick Mezzino has worked in Catholic education since 2005. He has taught at his current school, St Thomas School and Preschool, Goodwood since 2015.

Nick inspires his students with his passion for ecological conversion and education, encouraging and teaching them to nurture their respect for, and relationship with, the environment.

This passion has led to broad range of environmental initiatives and activities being implemented at St Thomas, including the ‘EcoWarriors’ program which sees students involved in a wide range of activities to achieve real and lasting changes in response to ecological problems.

Nick has led waste-reduction projects across the school such as recycling, coffee pod recycling and reducing the use of single use plastics in lunchboxes. Other more large-scale projects Nick has led include designing and planting a butterfly garden, building bird boxes with a visit from local conservationists, the introduction of chickens and the installation of a worm farm.

Environmental specialists have been brought into the school to provide education and parents are invited to assist in the gardening processes.

In addition to the EcoWarriors, Nick has developed a Nourish and Flourish Day which focuses on feeding the minds and souls of students and he works to support school families financially through promoting the re-use of second-hand uniforms.