Exceptional teachers deserve
A Day Made Better

Check out all the exceptional winning teachers from previous years by selecting the year below.
Here are their stories:

Days Made Better


For the past 5 years OfficeMax has been rewarding exceptional teachers around New Zealand, and 2015 saw another round of amazing nominations from principals, school administrators and fellow teachers!

The 15 winning teachers were surprised in their classrooms and celebrated with flowers, a certificate, and the big prize to share with the students - $1,000 worth of art, craft and stationery supplies for the classroom. From the team at OfficeMax, we would like to shout out a BIG congratulations to these outstanding teachers!        

Peter Crawley, Year 8
Westport South School
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Peter is an itinerant teacher who specialises in music and works with special needs students at Westport South School. Some of his students are deaf, and most have learning or behavioural needs. He is patient to the extreme redirecting off-task students, rewording and simplifying tasks to ensure they are successful and feel like they are learning the same as other children in their class. All of Peter's students learn under his guidance. Most music students pass their Trinity theory and practical exams. Those he assists for extra learning keep up with their peers in most cases and the older students have success with NCEA. He is a great role model and mentor to children!

Warwick Holden, Year 8
Strath Taieri School
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Warwick is an extremely dedicated, passionate and hardworking teacher. He expects the best out of his students and they endeavour to achieve in return. Warwick will organize sausage sizzles to fundraise money to keep school camp costs down for his kids, and will purchase all the bread, sauce, onions, and often sausages, so that all the money raised is profit. Warwick is passionate about boys' education and is very aware of catering to their learning needs. He implemented a Boys Reading Programme where older boys in his class buddied up with a younger boy from another room, and read part of a chapter book each day. This was one of the most positive and empowering learning experiences I have ever seen, and all the boys involved thrived on it.

Rachell Leitch, Year 8
Kapiti School
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Rachell teaches a range of classes during the day and out of school hours prepares and organises events for the children to participate in. She started the year running the school twilight gala, which involved large members of the Kapiti Community, with the proceeds going towards the purchase of tablets and iPads for the children in the classrooms. The gala involved huge numbers of children from the school, giving them a huge sense of purpose. Rachell has an amazing positivity which is very infectious, with a can-do mentality that really rubs off on the children. She inspires them daily to achieve what they set out to do. The school would be a poorer place without her.

Darryl Crawford, Year 8
TKKM o Mangatuna
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Being a positive and enthusiastic male role model in our learning community has impact in itself. Darryl is a passionate and committed teacher to the children at our school. Small communities can be challenging at best, and Darryl has the rapport required to succeed. He respects tamariki as he would expect them to respect him. Darryl's teaching promotes, inspires and motivates tamariki to reach their full potential, and at 6 feet tall Darryl has a way of working with the tamariki that makes them feel just as tall!

Mike Lynch, Year 4
Lower Moutere School
Lower Moutere
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Students enjoy being in Mike's class because of his ability to utilise the philosophies of a modern learning environment within his classroom. Children have a variety of options for working including sitting on the floor, using window seating, tables or on the outside deck. Mike also has several students with special needs in his class and he is able to accommodate their preferred learning styles through differentiated programmes. Because of this, these students have become more settled in their environment meaning their learning and development opportunities at school have become more secure. Students from senior classes will seek Mike out for support with sporting and Kapa Haka ideas and events. It's Mike's ability to relate positively with parents and the wider school community that means his students feel he is a genuine part of their whanau.

Nichola Gaines, Year 2
St Patrick's School (Invercargill)
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Nichola is a first year teacher who adores her class and they adore her also. Everything she does is to make things better for the children in her care. Her lessons are well thought out and she draws on her knowledge of working for 10 years as a teacher aide to get the best out of everyone in her class, not just those who are eager to learn. Nichola will do whatever she can to make their day the best it can be, despite where they come from. She dresses up in the funniest clothes on mufti days and lets the children appreciate her wonderful sense of humour. She jumps in boots and all with everything and shows the children that they need to try their best in everything they do. Nichola has brought a fresh approach to our school and is always willing to share her expertise among the other staff. The children are learning wonderful habits in her class that will set them up for great things in the years to come.

Brenda Critchfield, Year 3
TKKM o Te Rawhiti Roa
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Brenda volunteered last year to run the breakfast club for children who don't have time for breakfast or have enough food at home. Every day she shows up and is the first person to greet them. Despite a full day of teaching ahead and being a lead teacher in several projects in the school her commitment and dedication to children is absolute. Aside from the many kaupapa Brenda is involved in leading, developing and driving, she is tireless in her enthusiasm to learn and be involved in activities, events, new ideas, team building, whanau building and general developing of kaupapa that build a stronger kura. Brenda has a truly giving nature and is selfless in her work ethic.

Jadd Waters & Helen Pool, Year 3
Tikorangi School
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Mrs Pool and Mrs Waters work together in an exceptional way to keep their class inspired and excited about learning. They attend selected basketball, netball, soccer and rugby games throughout the season at the request of their students, whilst also having their own children to look after. This helps to inspire the children in their class to work hard and give their very best, knowing their teachers genuinely care for them. They are enthusiastic and think outside the box for ways to motivate the children in their class. The children love coming to school and the level of engagement from them is awe inspiring. They both take a genuine interest in their children, and the kids know and respond to this. They are both energetic and always have a smile for everyone!

Janice Diamond, Year 8
Finlayson Park School
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Janice Diamond is a remarkable teacher. Long hours are spent at school by Janice to ensure that her students are getting the best service that they deserve, and she sees these long hours as a normal part of her commitment to her students learning. The quality of work by all students is outstanding, routines are well established and the vibe in her classroom is magical! Janice also oversees the Health Promoting Schools programme in our school. She leads and works with a group of students who have maintained school gardens and know the importance of sustainability. This year, her students continue to be involved in extracurricular activities, proving themselves to be top sportspeople, top leaders, and top role models in our school. More teachers like Janice are needed to ensure students are nurtured and prepared for their futures as lifelong learners.

Daphne Callaghan, Year 0
Raukokore School
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Mrs Callaghan is always looking for ways to include the families of our students, some examples include writing about the positive and encouraging aspects of school and student achievements in the school newsletters, consistent encouragement of parents/caregivers to ask their tamariki what they are learning in school (including guiding them with specific questions to ask), and organising community days for whanau to come together and celebrate our student's learning. Our school family love Mrs Callaghan for her for her dedication and commitment to providing 'the best' for our precious tamariki.

Selina Peauafi, Year 4
St Joseph's School
Upper Hutt
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Since arriving at St Joseph's School, Selina has fostered a new appreciation for the different cultures that make up our school. This has seen a major increase in the pride of our students, their behaviour and most importantly their academic achievement. Selina's students always make significant improvements not only academically, but also in their sense of self with many of the children within her care showing future leadership potential within the school. At the end of every year I am inundated with requests by both students and parents to be placed within Miss P's class for the next year. This in itself highlights the regard that our school community have for Selina and the impact she has had on our community in the two years she has been with us.

Ashlee McLeod, Year 1
Castlecliff School
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You have to see Ashlee in action to believe it, her students love her, and whanau smile and smile when they hear their tamariki are moving into her class. Ashlee is always making new resources for her learners - she has a variety of these resources on hand constantly during all lessons so if something is not understood she can try another way to show the student. Ashlee teaches with a belief that every child can learn and if they aren't then she just needs to find another way to teach them. Ashlee is very down to earth, her dedication is obvious and her enthusiasm for learning is contagious!

Robyn Wilson, Year 2
Cargill Open Plan School
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Robyn is an amazing classroom teacher as well as being an inspiring leader in her roles as DP and team leader. She is also responsible for all of our interventions as teacher aides in her role as SENCO. Robyn goes above and beyond in her SENCO role. She gets to know the families of our children so she can provide personalized approaches to best support them and their child/ren. This, along with her classroom teaching responsibilities and her management duties means that Robyn works long hours. She puts a lot of time outside of school hours to support our children as learners and our staff as practitioners. She is thorough and meticulous, hardworking and committed. Her work benefits not only her class and her team, but children and families throughout the school.

Victoria Hygate, Year 7
Kumara School
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Victoria is our Principal and she teaches a class regularly whilst also running the school. Vic has swept into a school which was struggling, recruited Teacher Support staff, implemented new systems, straightened out historic payroll problems, inspired the Board, and organised multiple events such as swimming and cross country. 'Inclusion' is the name of the game, each student joins in where they feel their goals are reachable. It takes a special talent to encourage children through their fears and insecurities to reach for that higher achievement, especially the ones with esteem problems. Kumara School really needed someone like Vic to help us - and she has. We love Vic, with her inimitable style, flair, and rock solid logic. We don't know where we would be without Victoria Hygate!

Nicole Higby, Year 7/8
Marian Catholic School (Hamilton)
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Nicole is such an inspiring, engaged, motivated teacher who is actively looking to lift her students to reach their full potential. She has a genuine interest in the students and their learning, engaging her class in many lessons based around reading, writing, maths and all the other curriculum areas, but also teaching them about good values, how to be good people, how to solve difficult problems. When I pop my head in to see what her class is up to, I see engaged, hardworking students. She encourages a collaborative learning environment within the four walls of the classroom, but is never restricted to the indoors. Nicole is bright, bubbly, enthusiastic and active and when the students see that they absolutely thrive. The students in Nicole's class are very fortunate to have such a passionate, caring teacher.