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


In 2012, principals, teachers and school administrators from primary and intermediate schools across New Zealand nominated teachers who they believed had gone above and beyond the call of duty in their classroom.

From the list of over 100 entries, 10 winning teachers were chosen by an independent judging panel comprised of members from the New Zealand Principal's Federation.

Each teacher was surprised and thanked with flowers and $1,000 worth of arts & crafts, stationery and office supplies for their classroom.

Neil Hatful
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"Neil has been teaching for over 21 years at this school and currently teaches our Year 5 to 6 students. He inspires students to take on new challenges and acts as an exceptional role model for other teachers and students. He is the epitome of an excellent teacher. In spite of tremendous health issues he has unwaveringly delivered his best for his students, the school and the community. During a recent Education Review Office visit, Neil was singled out as an 'exceptional teacher ' in the school. Neil is always trying out new and innovative teaching strategies and is currently focusing on new strategies to ensure that boys stay connected to and engaged in learning. I also know that Neil spends his own funds to support development programmes for students who are less privileged. Neil is 'salt of the earth' a breed of teacher that sadly, almost no longer exists."

Geraldine Sumner
st Joseph's School
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"Our school had a LSM for 2 years. This placed huge financial strain and time constraints on our school. Geraldine when appointed in 2010 helped to raise the standards and the achievement of all students in our school. She has a wide knowledge and experience in ICT, Literacy and Numeracy, the Arts and wider school organization. Geraldine motivates all students in the school to reach their potential. Her New Entrant classroom is vibrant, exciting, stimulating and engaging. She is always working in her own time to create resources for her class or recently large pieces for our production at the opera house. She not only does this for herself but for others and the school as a whole."

Joanne Aitken
Northcote School
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"Joanne teaches our New Entrants and also mentors four beginning teachers in the junior syndicate. She develops strong relationships with students and parents providing support and guidance to our Decile 2 community. She leads development of school wide numeracy and literacy with significant impact on student results and always provides exciting opportunities for students to engage in learning. Her support and advice to the leadership team is fantastic. Joanne has led a new initiative to engage students and family in the learning at school through 'Learning Stories ' which have had a strong impact on family involvement with the school. Her engagement with outside education providers and the school wide community shows her passion for education in general. She is focused on the children being best prepared to succeed at school and she has had a huge impact on the future success of our students."


"We are a Decile 1 school, many of our students come poorly prepared for school. Some of our Pacific Island students start school in Jeanette's class with little, if any English. The progress they make in their first year at school is phenomenal. She focuses her programmes to meet the needs of all students, setting individual goals. This, coupled with her high expectations, encouraging, positive class climate and empathy, results in a class of students who want to learn and to achieve their potential. The climate she sets is a motivational factor for students, but more importantly, she also motivates the teachers in her syndicate to focus their teaching, so that all students are given every opportunity to reach their potential. Jeanette is the lead teacher for our mathematics professional development, she runs the Read Together programme, tutoring parents. She is also Deputy Principal and the Literacy leader as well as organising our swimming, coaching netball and SENCO".

Quentin Jaimeson
Karamea Area School
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"As one of the most isolated schools in New Zealand the staff are at real risk of becoming professionally isolated. Quentin goes out of his way to ensure that he stays up do date and is always excited to take on new learning. After more than 10 years in the classroom Quentin has taken on Reading Recovery training, which is a huge commitment. Quentin's classroom is the kind of place where you will find a full sized indoor sandpit (some negotiation with the cleaners was required), a two story cardboard castle and outside you will find him roasting marshmallows and making hot Milo in his billy. Often when I pass the school late at night Room 1's lights are on as Quentin is balanced on the top of a ladder creating something for his class. The kids in Quentin's class like coming to school..."


"Our challenges include parents unable to get students to school (our principal picks them up), behavioural problems, students not quite ready for school, anger and minor bullying. Pam likes to save the school and parents' money, she will often pay for extra items from her own pocket. She has 27 students. Her students range in abilities and behaviours, but no one goes without. She's been on the local committee to help build a sports area and gymnasium. Pam has set up programmes aimed at the child's level (some programmes have only 1 or 2 students in them). Whole of class activities range from making a simple sandwich to reiterate a letter of the alphabet, then on to cooking pizzas using the topping to create a letter or shape. For the outdoor type students they create their own bird feeders, walking to local scenic areas. These activities all lead to literacy, story writing and counting."

Heather Willocks
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"We are always looking for the best way to lift our standards of achievement. Heather is constantly re-evaluating and reflecting what works and what doesn't and re-arranging her programme to suit the needs of her students. Heather attends sporting and cultural events to watch her students and cheer them on, and encourages other staff to go along with her too. Heather works hard always arriving extra early and leaving extra late to make sure she is providing her children with the highest standard of programme. Heather encourages the maths class she takes, they come to her struggling to grasp new concepts and she turns them into confident mathematicians. Heather tries lots of different approaches and uses lots of exciting examples and experiences to motivate the children's attitudes to learning."

Jasmine Rolton
New River Primary
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"We are a Decile 2 school and some of our families struggle to supply the resources their children need for school. Jasmine ensures she has a fully equipped, comfortable classroom by constantly purchasing items that encourage students to stay focused on learning. Recently she purchased colourful bean seats and balance balls so her students could work at the computers looking after their spines and posture. Jasmine has high expectations for her students, she calls them her stars and always encourages them to reach for the stars. As ICT lead teacher she ensures her colleagues and students are up to date with latest software and demonstrates how to use the software in the classroom. Jasmine is a very passionate, hardworking teacher and her students are enthusiastic about learning."

Sonia Rova
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"Sonia is a hard working, dedicated teacher who really cares about the kids in her class. She goes above the call of duty for children making sure they are well fed, feeling safe and secure, and able to learn. Recently we had a child diagnosed with cancer in our school community. Sonia made connections with the family, organised donation tins to be placed around the community, organised celebrity visitors to meet the child while he was at Starship Hospital, organised a local business to hold a 'mucking in' day at the family's house, organised amazing prizes for the fundraisers that we held, organised donations of food for the family and was available for the Mum to lean on in times of need. Also Sonia is always arranging amazing experiences for our kids. Some recent ones include visits from 30 fluffy chickens, a piglet, the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter and Grant 'Axe' Rawlinson who recently climbed Mt Everest."

Jacki Newell
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"Windley School is a Decile 1 school in Porirua East which is in a low socio economic area. The challenges some of the children face are issues with hunger, family violence, financial difficulties etc. Jacki Newell is a committed and passionate teacher who believes that every child is gifted. She enthusiastically unlocks the children's imagination and quest for knowledge and they soar. She makes learning fun and exciting and the children use technology in their everyday learning. Seven year olds are able to publish their work in either book form, power point or even video. Jacki inspires them to think like scientists and fosters their curiosity. Jacki devised a programme called 'Adventures in Learning' which is used throughout the Junior Syndicate, it is a fun, hands on programme that teaches a whole range of skills from problem solving to team work. The children are given opportunities to explore new experiences."