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!        

Catherine Murray, Year 3-6
Broadwood Area School
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Catherine has genuine aroha for the students and whanau of her class. She is an inspiring role model and an excellent athlete who takes active part in activities within the local community and throughout Te TaiTokerau. She ensures that all whanau and her students know what level of learning they are at at the beginning of each year and she works with them to set goals and then to give them confidence to know what the next steps are required to reach the goals. Students are encouraged to participate and compete in sporting activities throughout the year at both local and provincial levels. She teaches and encourages students to be active participants in tikanga Maori to join the junior kapahaka group and to  participate in Manukorero Maori and English oratory contests. When students are troubled they confide easily in her and seek her guidance.

Tumii Poko, Year 7-8
Manurewa Intermediate
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Tumii leads our Pasifika students to excellence, engaging the three facets of their lives into an inclusive and supportive classroom environment - school, church (spirituality) and home. Tumii has this unique way of inspiring and motivating students to reach their full potential, he simply loves them, shares in all areas of their lives and believes that they can be the best they can be as it is in his calm and consistent manner with children and his deep understanding of who they are. Nothing is beyond the call of duty for him, every chance he has to motivate them, he uses. He follows through with all the parents to be involved with their children's' learning. Tumii embraces change and uses new methods and techniques to ensure his students are engaged. Tumii is outstanding and his impact is ongoing.

Todd Williams, Year 6
Patumahoe Primary School
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Todd Williams is energetic, empathetic and committed to excellence. He involves children in community service, musical performances for the elderly, at community fundraisers or celebrations. He extends young mathematicians. He taught the teams of four Year 6 pupils placed 1st and 3rd (2012) and 1st and 2nd (2013) in the Pukekohe Schools Mathex competitions. He coaches winning school-based sports teams  and has revived the school inter-house competition awarding points for cooperation and success in school events. He nurtures children with special needs and exceptional talents. Todd leads with his guitar the weekly singing of the national anthem and directs exceptional senior school productions. He builds children's creativity, self-concept, and resilience by broadening their skill base and stretching their strengths. Todd balances the big picture and the small details; the interests of the whole group and the individuals. His high expectations and humour work wonders. For Todd's class, each day is one made better.

Billy Hadnett, Year 7
St Peter's College (Epsom)
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Billy is a teacher that is willing to do anything and everything, mostly above and beyond what is expected of teachers. His willingness to take sports teams, be involved in the school production each year, running the backstage crew and every Monday going out with the Pillars programme that works with primary school students that have at least one parent in jail. And though he has no time at all, he is on the schools Old Boy Committee. He is presently studying a Masters in Educational Leadership which gives him the chance to reflect on what he is presently doing and why, and also to learn new techniques. It is with the willingness and eagerness of teachers such as Billy that great things can happen. He is always up for any challenge and it is a credit to him that he sees the benefit for the students that is the reason why he gets involved in all of these activities.

Reno Moosman, Year 1
Waimana School
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Whaea Reno exemplifies the perfect teacher showing enthusiasm for her teaching role and has a compassionate manner when dealing with her students and staff.  She teaches the Year 1-3 Rumaki Unit that has a lot of students who do not have stable home lives. Whaea Reno uses her own money to buy lunches for her students and will also transport them to various places to ensure they do not miss out on sporting activities. She provides a steady shoulder to cry on for her students and parents in times of need. I feel she is hugely undervalued and wish to have her celebrated for all that she does in our school. Whaea Reno introduces innovative approaches to teaching by creating resources from her own pocket and recently held an auction in her class of her students own work for them to purchase, teaching them the value of speaking up, negotiation and bargaining skills.

Carol Morris, Year 2-3
Cargill Open Plan School
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Carol is very community minded and goes above and beyond the call of duty in providing for the children in her classroom. She is the first to volunteer to do extra-curricular activities and regularly attends sports games just to watch and support our children. She does mountains of work behind the scenes - providing transport, baking, washing uniforms, storing props and the backdrops for school productions, moving furniture and staging, organising sawdust for the long jump pit...the list goes on. This year she coordinated our choir and was secretary for the Choir Festival Committee. She has also become the parent representative on the PTA. Carol puts in hours of her own time and enlists the support of her extended family to assist the school. She also feeds our students and will provide transport for them to ensure they don't miss out on opportunities.

Helen Crawford, Year 1-8
TKKM o Mangatuna
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She drives children to and from school, she coaches netball which has a round trip of 165km each Saturday to compete, she drives swim clubs some weeks, she tutors Kapahaka, she attends PD to be a best practice teacher, she committed to our tamariki - and this is out of school hours. What she manages to do during school time is nothing short of AWESOME! She is professional, treats all tamariki as Rangatira with respect all day every day, in fact they're sad if she's not here. Her teaching pedagogy's are awesome, her practice is awesome. She has small intense accelerated sessions in maths as this is her core subject, she is responsible for maths school wide and does a fantastic job of monitoring, delivering, planning and assessing, and our tamariki have made incredible gains.

Warwick Grady, Year 7-8
Palmerston North Intermediate
Palmerston North
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Warwick is innovative, inspiring and passionate about Science. All the students at our Intermediate are inspired by his enthusiasm and knowledge. He makes himself available outside of school hours to support students (and parents) with their Science & Technology Fair Investigations and Science Challenges. He has inspired students to take on minor sports e.g. archery and orienteering and have success with them. He will also give many hours of his own time supporting them to succeed. Warwick will support all of his colleagues, and is always offering to fill in duties, cover a class or support a teacher with their Science programme. For some students he will be the teacher who made the difference for them in their education!

Warwick takes on so many extra duties within the school. Often he misses lunch time and morning tea so he can organise things like the archery club, orienteering team, science fair, leo club and heaps of other stuff. He opens the labs on weekends so that the children can have the resources they need to work on their science fair projects. He is committed 100% to giving every child the encouragement to take every opportunity offered to them.

Viv Booth, Year Zero
Solway School
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Viv Booth is an exceptional teacher because she is the first teacher that our children have when they start school. Children who leave the school often come back to visit her. We are a family school and Viv initiates this family initiative from day one of each new child's school life. She is highly respected by her peers as a leader in literacy, from parents she works with as each child goes through their first year and from the Board of Trustees as an Assistant Manager of the school. Her focus is on settling children into school life and engaging them into learning. Viv has settled some very difficult children into school and has earned great respect for this from the community. Solway School has wonderfully settled staff who enjoy teaching and learning and this has in some part been due to Viv's leadership, enthusiasm, role modelling and her special X Factor.

Kirsten Berry, Year 6
Muritai School
Lower Hutt
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Kirsten is an exceptional teacher. She is eternally positive and always provides a creative and interesting learning environment for her students. She has teaching in her blood and every child in her class is motivated and inspired to be the best they can be. She recognises individual strengths and talents and helps every child to find their passion. She is HOD of the Arts and Enviro-Schools and spends a huge amount of her free time and energy creating opportunities for children in these areas. Kirsten has written all of the productions and wearable arts plays for the past seven years and never fails to be fresh and creative. She is a team player and supports her colleagues with her positive, collaborative and genuine friendship and advice. Kirsten is always willing to work with our community and this year she organised a 'jacket and shoe' drive to get warmth to children in low-decile schools.

Jenni Williams, Year 8
Bohally Intermediate
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She spends time at lunchtime helping students with sport skills. Started a Wheelie Wednesday club to accommodate the scooter fanatics, along with ordering ramps etc for them to use. Her upbeat attitude to life in general rubs off on the students that encourages them to 'have a go' and excel. She works very hard at keeping up with the necessary paperwork within the school and promoting the teaching of the current curriculum.

Jenni Williams is a dedicated hard working teacher who uses her time effectively to help teachers and students as much as possible. Her experience in the teaching profession is evident as she is always displaying exciting new ideas or adapting the old into the new. Jenni is currently one of two bring your own device classes here at Bohally Intermediate and the teaching and learning from Room 3 is awesome! The students show a high self-efficacy, they have strong leadership qualities and help out around the school as much as possible sharing their IT knowledge and learning with others

Deborah Forsyth, Year 1
Westport South School
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In 2012 a growing roll meant we had to expand to use the library, a double classroom area. Deb accommodated classes interrupting her programme to allow them access to the books. She started with 12 children in the space but by the end of the year the roll reached 40, plus another young teacher whom she took on the job of mentoring. Deb has set up a system that has seen the children work off task boards in groups of no more than four. Special needs learners are catered for and children needing extension also have their needs met. Deb is always reaching into her own pocket buying educational games and activities to keep the children excited and engaged in their learning. Deb also is one of our reading recovery teachers and oversees this programme within the school. Deb is part of the senior management team responsible for the junior school and for writing throughout the school.

Wendy Huriwai, Year 4
Southbridge School
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I have worked alongside Wendy Huriwai for three years and I am overwhelmed by her professionalism and her enormous talent and commitment to children, parents, caregivers, colleagues and the delivery of the school curriculum. Wendy is not only a classroom teacher for a composite Year 4 and 5 class, but she is also the Deputy Principal, the SENCO (Senior Syndicate Leader), Kapahaka Leader and inspirer, Literacy Quiz Leader (of which she initiated) and the School Choir Teacher. She is an inspirational practitioner and leader who is very skilled at motivating children to perform to the very best of their ability in all areas. She organises extra extension groups for many children within the school. Wendy has also helped out less fortunate families from her own resources and in her own time.

Karen Huffadine, Year 2
Cromwell Primary School
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Karen is a truly remarkable teacher, a true professional. She is totally dedicated to her work, both as a classroom teacher and as our Deputy Principal. She is a teacher who notices the special things her children do, say and achieve and will always go the extra mile to ensure that every child has the chance to succeed in her room. She is highly motivated and always seems to come up with fantastic ways of engaging the children - making ginger beer, awesome visual art projects, wearing those giant underpants to school when turning the children into Environmental Super Heroes - nothing phases her. Karen is highly respected in our community and spends countless hours working alongside families to support them and to ensure their children have the best chance to learn. Karen leads our "Community Crusaders" initiative that involves a partnership we have with our local rest home.

Michael Black, Year 7
Longford Intermediate
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Michael is only in his second year of teaching but he is very mature in his teaching particularly with behaviour management. Michael had a student in his class who had been excluded from another school. Michael has mentored him and been such a great role model that this student now plays sports for the school, is a school councillor and represented our school with the Kapahaka group. Because of his success with this student Michael was asked to run a ten week programme with six boys who were having behaviour problems. Michael had great success with these students and they all respect him. Michael is also very innovative with new technology and allows his students to use movie making and music to enhance their learning. Michael coaches sports teams and spends weekends supporting students at their various sports. He is an enthusiastic hardworking teacher.