Science teacher wins major international award

Science teacher Alex Van der Loos has had a huge win in Baltimore. She won the top research award at this International Conference (ICGS), attended by 600 delegates from 12 countries.

The GARC Researcher of the Year award is given annually to a fellow who has developed a project that is innovative and meaningful and exemplifies genuine and rigorous action research by exploring the research question in detail and arriving at findings that positively contribute to teaching and learning—both in the fellow’s school and in girls’ schools in general. Award recipients are also actively involved members of the GARC action research community, and they are recognised for creating research reports that are well-crafted, logical and compelling, incorporating sound data analysis with an engaging delivery.

Alex was highly praised “for her ‘widely applicable’ Action Research report on this year’s GARC topic of “Engaging the power of many voices; leveraging Girls’ collaborative spirit toward courageous and joyful learning”.

Alex’s research project, which has already had a positive impact beyond our school community, is entitled “Empowering Environmental Guardians”. It explores how to empower students to become agents of change in environmental conservation. The emphasis on collaboration carried the girls well beyond the school, as they engaged with the Auckland Council and our local MP, Simon Watts.

The award also recognised Alex’s written report’s superb quality and her full engagement throughout the demanding programme. Her project was as ambitious as it was exciting, designed to be implemented at any level by educators across the globe. At all times, the voices and actions of her students shone throughout, reminding us of the power of girls’ voices. The implications for girls’ collaborative learning are expressed with precision, clarity and authenticity.

Alex’s commitment to her students and her research is evident in her intention to track the career choices of these environmental guardians. We eagerly anticipate the future impact of her work and the potential of these young environmentalists.

We are thrilled and very proud that she has won this prestigious award. Congratulations, Alex!

“This has been such a rewarding experience and my students worked so hard on their projects – they inspired me every step of the way. A huge thank you to Jane Stanley and Westlake Girls High School for the opportunity.” Alex van der Loos.