The Marily Scanlon Award for Teaching Excellence is one of the highly anticipated presentations at each end-of-year Prizegiving. In 2020, two teachers, Head of Innovation and Information Services, Wilj Dekkers, and Commerce teacher, Jo Bigford-Fleming, were chosen as recipients of the award, for their outstanding contributions and enormously positive impact at St Andrew’s College.
Wilj began teaching at St Andrew’s in the Preparatory School in 2014. During his seven years at the College, he has diversified his responsibilities to guiding and supporting teachers in their transition to online learning, and students in their proficiency in digital literacy. He was highly involved in the redevelopment of the Secondary School Library into The Green Library and Innovation Centre, which opened in June 2018.
Wilj has become a sought-after presenter at international ICT conferences and was instrumental in the success of the St Andrew’s College e-Learning programme during the lockdown period in 2020. He has encouraged the further development of Technology subjects and has created opportunities for many students in the co-curricular robotics competitions. At the Vex IQ National Robotics Championship he was awarded the 2020 Vex IQ Teacher of the Year award.
Wilj says being congratulated by students from both the Preparatory and Secondary Schools after winning the Marily Scanlon Award caused him to pause and reflect on some of the many incredible opportunities and achievements at St Andrew’s over the past years. He is most proud of watching how individuals, groups, and classes enjoy The Green Library and Innovation Centre and seeing the programmes he helped to establish become self-sustaining. “I am really grateful for the Marily Scanlon Award prize money, which will give my wife and I the opportunity to attend Bett London, one of the top Edtech conferences in the world, when we can travel again. We will also visit family in the Netherlands and old friends from our years teaching in the United Kingdom.”
Jo Bigford-Fleming has taught at St Andrew’s for 19 years. During this time, she has inspired hundreds of Commerce students with a particular passion for Economics. Almost every year there are students who achieve Scholarship in Economics, and many school leavers have gone on to become highly successful in this area beyond school.
Jo is committed to the holistic development of all students she connects with, particularly during the eight years she served as a Dean, guiding and cajoling her students as they navigated their way through Secondary School. “I am very proud of my times as a Dean, as well as seeing students enjoy the world of Economics. To hear that many of them have carried on into the world of commerce, confirms the relevance of the subject throughout school.”
Jo’s commitment to co-curricular activities sees her support many sporting and cultural activities, and she has managed many tennis and basketball teams over the years.
She says it was an ‘incredible honour’ to gain the award. “Jay Scanlon’s philanthropy is one of the many examples of the great relationships the College and community have. It was a thrill to receive this honour and to be recognised for doing a job I love.”
Jo plans to use the prize money towards completing a Master of Education (MEd) with a focus on developing financial literacy across all age groups, or to travel to China to look at trade links between the two countries and what this will mean for students in the future.
The Marily Scanlon Award for Teaching Excellence is generously supported by previous Board member, Jay Scanlon, in memory of his late wife Marily. It was first awarded in 2009.