An anonymous parent wrote to About, describing Year 6 teacher at St Therese Catholic Primary Sadleir-Miller Kelly Littlewood as a ‘national treasure’ who deserves to be named teacher of the decade. Her students and colleagues agree.
“Kelly is an outstanding teacher,” Principal Stephen Lemos said. “Through the pastoral care and co-curricular activities that she takes on, she allows students to access the whole range of activities that the school can offer. She is very well respected and loved by all of the students, parents, and teachers.”
Ms Littlewood is modest about her contribution to school life over the past 10 years, though it has included teaching early literacy initiative Reading Recovery, ESL students, and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education across Kindergarten to Year 6.
She’s very encouraging and she always gives you good advice.
She has also assisted young athletes with a disability at regional and state sports events, and given up mornings to teach students who have long since graduated to learn how to swim. Now on the school’s leadership team, her focus is on student wellbeing and resilience, and she is working to have the school accredited as a KidsMatter school.
“It’s really about ensuring that the school is a welcoming place and wellbeing and good mental health is something that we continually strive for,” Ms Littlewood said. “Someone once said to me early on in my teaching career that unless you know at least 10 things about every child in your class, you shouldn’t be teaching. Every child I’ve had contact with, I’ve tried to make sure I know 10 or more things about them.
Ms Littlewood said different personalities make her work interesting.
“Each one of them is just essential to the class,” she said. “You take one out and it changes the whole dynamic. You need each and every personality in that room to make it what it is.”
Starting the school day with positive affirmations was a reminder of why she loves teaching. “They sat there with their eyes closed and as I said each person’s name and told them what they were good at, you just saw this smile on their face. It was really beautiful to watch. I think it’s just about making that emotional connection with the kids.”
And they appreciate it. Year 6 students clamoured to share what they love about their teacher.
“Ms Littlewood is a one of a kind teacher,” said Maddison Chandra, 11. “She’s caring, and she always has time for you.”
Zachary Parslow, 12, said Ms Littlewood was able to joke and be serious, while Alexis Lovell, 11, described her as trustworthy. “I can trust her with anything and she’s really kind,” she said. “She’s helped me with a few spelling processes and it has really helped me throughout Year 6.”
Maximo Pace, 11, also likes her teaching style. “She’s very encouraging and she always gives you good advice,” he said.
Staff appreciate the same qualities in their colleague. “Kelly is my mentor of curriculum and planning,” said Year 2 teacher Kathryn Mason. “She often gives me strategies to create a more effective learning environment for the children, positive feedback, and is always so encouraging. It’s never a hassle to ask Kelly a question. If somebody is feeling stressed out they know that they can speak to her and she’ll listen and provide ideas or encouragement.”
St Therese’s state literacy and numeracy facilitator Vanessa Radulovic has worked closely with Ms Littlewood to identify gaps in students’ literacy and numeracy skillsets.
“With Kelly’s skills we know where the children are coming from,” she said. “She develops children holistically, and she’s so calm. I find that’s her big strength. It’s nice the effort that she places into people. She always listens and has time for them.”