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 2014, OfficeMax showed their appreciation to 15 exceptional teachers along with special guests from the NZ Principal's Federation and members of Sticky TV.

The team behind a Day Made Better travelled nationwide to surprise, thank and reward the winning teachers in their classrooms. The teacher's efforts were 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.

Luke Willis, Year 8
Melville Intermediate
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I have witnessed the hours that Luke has put in both before school and after school to provide his class with rich learning activities. He tracks down fun and interesting topics for his students to submerge themselves in. Instead of teaching measurement from a book he has a group of students creating scale models and working on building a working Radio Controlled Airplane. Luke is always looking for the most engaging and exciting way of hooking his students into his lessons and the students really respond positively.

Sarah Hearn, Year 7-8
St Peter's College (Palmerston North)
Palmerston North
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Sarah has an ongoing impact on her students in two main ways. As a classroom teacher Sarah influences the students in her classroom through the focus she has on literacy for her students, and the strong relationships she fosters. As Year 7/8 Team Leader she has a broader impact on wider student achievement. As a Year 7/8 classroom teacher, she has her students for two years. During that time, she has proven her ability to improve the literacy levels of each student. She uses a teaching as inquiry approach to continue to strive for the best results for each student. She aims to build a sense of self-worth, to increase confidence and resiliency. Sarah builds strong relationships with, not just the student, but their parents.

Viv Norris, Year 1
Omata School
New Plymouth
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Viv is inspirational to both students and staff. She is always looking for new ways to make the learning exciting and is innovative in her use of resources, technology and programmes for learning. Viv really stretches the children's 'learning muscles', as she calls them. What a great introduction to school life for our 5 year olds! Viv manages to impart our school values and way of learning to our all of our very special new entrants in such a caring way. She has the personal touch. 

Sharon Allen, Year 4
Te Kowhai School
Te Kowhai
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Sharon takes a lot of time to get to know her students and their families and she does this exceptionally well.  She makes each and every one of them feel special and is constantly evaluating and redesigning her learning programmes to ensure that all of her students are catered for, both in terms of learning and interest levels. She spends copious amounts of time working out of school hours to ensure that her students are engaged in meaningful and interesting programmes. Sharon has been a true risk-taker and innovator within her classroom. She has spent numerous extra hours refining the use of google docs and Hapara Teacher Dashboard to set up an online learning environment that is exciting and engaging. Her students go home and never stop learning as they are so motivated by what learning they are doing.

Michelle Picard, Year 1
Fraser Crescent School
Upper Hutt
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Michelle is a very committed teacher and deputy principal at Fraser Crescent School. She has her finger in 'all the pies', and no one can understand how she is able to do all the things in which she is involved in. The list includes being involved in three different transition to school programmes, gardening group and community garden, school Kapa Haka and performance Kapa Haka Group, breakfast club, opening the swimming pool for students at lunchtime, various reading, writing and maths clubs, SENCO - special needs teacher, supporting beginning teachers, to name just a few. Being a teacher at our school also involves some participation in wider 'community events' many of which Michelle is fully involved, such as our Spring festival, events at the local Marae, and Bike the Trail events. On top of all the extras that Michelle undertakes, she is also an amazing, caring and nurturing teacher.

Lisa Johnston, Year 6
Riverton School
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Lisa teaches a bi-lingual class from Y3-6. She has the only bi-lingual class in Southland so at times it can feel a bit isolated from teachers with similar types of classes. Lisa is so caring and always goes the extra mile such as transporting children to school each day from Invercargill so their learning is not disrupted, spending her own money to ensure extra resources are available in her classroom, always looking for new ideas to motivate and engage her students. Her classroom is a delight with highly engaged students, beautifully executed and displayed student art work and really interesting learning experiences. Lisa is very approachable and always willing to help. She is always quick to volunteer for extra duties and a hugely supportive all round workmate.

Rochelle Watson, Year 5
Te Puke Primary School
Te Puke
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Mrs Watson goes above and beyond the call of duty, because she has inspired the children to keep learning and to do their best, no matter what life throws in your path. That is exactly what Mrs Watson is modelling to her children right now. Mrs Watson doesn't just teach, she facilitates and supports learning and inspires her students to have ownership of their own learning. She listens to their thoughts and ideas and allows them to take responsibility for their own learning and classroom. Mrs Watson has engaged her students with an amazing opportunity and an exceptional project over the last two terms, by taking the students on a journey of creating a new age learning environment within the classroom. Starting with investigating how each individual student likes to learn.

Trish Weaver, Year 7
Rapaura School
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Trish cares, she is a very selfless and down to earth Teacher who gives 110% to her students, she will be the one picking up a truant student, making sure they get technology, organising clothes, meals, books etc to students less fortunate. Even though Trish is caring she does it in a way that makes students responsible for their own behaviour. Trish gets her class to nominate a Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Minister of Communication, Minister of Sport etc.. each Term, students have to take the role seriously and in doing so it teaches them to carry out important tasks and empowers them to become responsible and confident leaders. Students from years gone by still take time to come and see Trish, they all think she is tops - spend a day in her class and you will see why.

Yvonne Toa, Year 8
Tahuna Normal Intermediate
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I have confirmed my A+++ rating of Yvonne as a teacher by talking with staff, parents and students. She is highly regarded in the community and I have numerous requests from parents for her to teach their child. She is the most amazing teacher seen in my 48yrs of service. 100% committed, gives 110% to kids 25hrs per day and creatively displays all their work in her class room which makes it THEIR room. She knows kids needs and thoroughly plans and teaches in fun/fair, creative way, improvements are seen in kids results. Taxis kids, feeds them, involves outside agencies to help, provides many extra from own budget. Strong, regular communication links with home, involves parents in innovative programme. Is fair, gracious, strong, robust, innovative ,chirpy, generous, energetic, a busy bee, helps without being asked, uses initiative as sensitive to her kids needs.

Elaine Soich, Year 4
Kamo School
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Elaine is constantly looking to improve her own teaching practice with modern and up to date ideas and ways she can deliver this to her class as she understands that they (her students) are modern learners who need to be engaged in a motivating and modern approach. Elaine spends a tonne of her own time out of class learning about these approaches, looking at blogs, talking to others and ganging new ideas to ensure that the children in her classroom have the best, most engaging, motivating and creative things and way to learn. Elaine has spent a lot of time coming to grips with the daunting task that was given to her to go 1 to 1 with iPads in her classroom which she took as a positive and a new challenge. A true star and life long learner in our books at Kamo Primary.

Sara Mines, Year 4
St Michael's Catholic School (Rotorua)
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This term we are moving to a more collaborative teaching approach where pairs of teachers will be working closely together to enhance students' learning. For this to work, we needed a teacher to move into the dreaded "Room 4" - the classroom that nobody wants. Sara came up with the idea that she would move into the "worst" classroom in the school, to vacate her own classroom for another teacher to use so that she could be closer to her teaching buddy. Since moving, Sara has spent countless amounts of her own money and time to remodel it into an amazing space for teaching and learning. She has bought pot-plants, bean-bags, art work, a comfy sofa, new benches and more. She has created a modern learning environment where the children can choose how and where they learn which has led to her students becoming incredibly motivated and enthusiastic about learning.

Kathy Mehrtens, Year 6
Windwhistle School
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Kathy is always looking for new ideas to bring into the classroom in terms of new topics to teach, different learning methods to encourage her students to investigate, explore, set goals and complete projects. She also listens to the school community and what they would like to see their children getting involved in. Kathy is also very invested in her class of Years 4, 5 and 6 wanting to see them learn, grow and give them every chance of becoming proactive future citizens in the community. Kathy works hours at home and is in at school by 6.30am and gone by 6.00pm investigating, researching, preparing for her class's learning opportunities. Kathy is teaching her students how to think outside the square, how to use resources around them to find the information that they are looking for. She applies the learning to everyday life situations.

Damian Burden, Year 7
Kaikorai Valley College
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Damian is an energetic young teacher. He has been made Dean of our Junior College because of his exceptional teaching skills. As well as offering an excellent and stimulating academic programme in the classroom he encourages students to be physically fit and active. Damian is dynamic, energetic young teacher and leader who inspires all students who come in contact with him. He was appointed Head of our Junior College early this year in recognition of his very strong teaching practice and leadership skills. He manages to get the most out of students. The students would follow him to the end of the world if he asked. He is incredible!! Out of all the teachers I know, I would prefer my own son to be taught and coached by him. He includes music, technology, outdoor pursuits and clear guidelines and boundaries. He treats students as individuals.

Rita Brooking, Year 8
Manurewa Intermediate
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Rita teaches in Le Fesoasoani, an adapted learning within our school. Students are specially selected to be part of this class which offers differentiated learning. Rita goes above and beyond to deeply understand the needs and talents of her students. To quote one of the students in the class, "When you are in Ms Brookings class, you never feel like you're alone. She treats us like we are all her children and nothing is too much. She is always there for us and we can tell her anything and know she will be there for us". Rita is committed to her children, whether it is home visits of finding students who are absent from school, nothing is too much for the students in Rita's class. She provides resources often to ensure her students are equipped for learning, which sometimes extends well beyond the pens and pencils the students require.

Benita Mareikura, Year 8
Napier Intermediate
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Benita is a teacher who expects the best from all her students whatever level they are at. She sets high standards but provides clear, supportive guidelines to help students reach these standards. Benita will trial new teaching initiatives but keeps her teaching grounded and focused on students engagement and achievement. Benita takes the Kapa Haka group, Pasifika group, runs the lunchtime sport programme, organises whole school sporting activities such as school cross country, athletics. She also organises Basketball for any student who is interested and maintains this sporting opportunity for every term of the school year. Benita is willing to listen and learn, she will ask questions and requires sound pedagogical evidence before she will trial a new initiative. She is forward thinking teacher whose students have the not only respect for but recognise openly how she has positively impacted on their learning.