Virginia Simcock wins Marily Scanlon Award

1 May 2024

St Andrew's College former Head of Modern Languages, Virginia Simcock, in her classroom just before her retirement.

REGULUS // ISSUE 1 // MAY 2024

After 32 years sharing her love of the Japanese language and culture with St Andrew’s students, Virginia Simcock retired at the end of 2023. Her significant contribution, including over 20 years as Head of Modern Languages, was honoured at Prizegiving, when she was presented with the Marily Scanlon Award for Teaching Excellence.

As the sole Japanese teacher at the College throughout that time, Virginia’s engaging teaching style made learning Japanese come alive for her students. She was renowned for the delightful displays in her classroom of all things Japanese.

Virginia joined St Andrew’s as a part-time Japanese teacher in 1992, the same year St Andrew’s officially became co-educational. She soon gained a reputation for being a passionate and skilled teacher, which led to her position becoming full-time in 1996. “I have loved the opportunity to teach Japanese to students right throughout their secondary schooling. We built a great rapport and I’m still in touch with many of my past students today,” says Virginia.

In the early days of her role, there was no technology, just text books, which saw Virginia spend countless hours writing resources for her students.

The nine school trips she led to Japan were ‘definite’ highlights, she says. “Cultural and language trips give students and teachers the opportunity to get to know each other on a whole different level, and allow them to experience first-hand what they have learnt in the classroom. I know of several St Andrew’s students who were inspired after those trips to go back to Japan to study or work.”

Known at the College as a great organiser with strong connection building skills, Virginia created a sister school relationship with Fukuoka High School, the Kurashiki Exchange, teacher exchanges, and promotional trips.

After taking away ‘many happy memories’ from her three decades at St Andrew’s, helping hundreds of young people to learn Japanese, and develop a better global understanding and cultural awareness, Virginia is excited about entering a new life phase. In her retirement, she hopes to work with and support new migrants to New Zealand, enjoy some travel, and spend more time with her grandchildren.

On hand at Prizegiving to witness the 15th presentation of the Marily Scanlon award was its sponsor (and former Board member) Jay Scanlon. He generously sponsors the $5000 prize in honour of his late wife Marily. Virginia is putting the money towards a tour in Iceland in July.

Virginia Simcock, St Andrew's College former Head of Modern Languages, being awarded the Marily Scanlon Award at the 2023 Prizegiving.

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