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Teacher excellence rewarded


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St Andrew’s College has lots of dedicated, hard-working and inspirational teaching staff, and each year at Prizegiving, thanks to a gift from former St Andrew’s College parent and Board member, Jay Scanlon, one of them wins an award in memory of Jay’s late wife, Marily.

The Marily Scanlon Award for Teacher Excellence was conceived following a St Andrew’s College Prizegiving. “Prizegiving is a wonderful celebration and part of the culture of the College, but I noticed that while teacher excellence was talked about, there  were no awards for the faculty. I had the idea to endow a prize,” says Jay.

In 2009, Jay, along with son, Francis (OC 2002) and daughter, Maris (OC 2012) established the award in Marily’s name. The first winner was Drama teacher, Julie Drummond, and the latest was former Head of Media, Simon Williams, who retired at the end of 2019 after a 24-year career at St Andrew’s.

Jay said he has no involvement in the selection of the winner, who is awarded the prize from a pool of nominated teachers. “Francis, Maris and I are always invited to Prizegiving and I’m introduced to the recipient. The purpose of the award is to thank an excellent teacher for a job well done.”

Some teachers have used the prize money to travel, including recent winners Simon Williams (USA), Hamish Faulls (Greece and Italy), Allyson Duncan (Italy) and Brent Cummack (Hawaii).

Another initiative at St Andrew’s supported by Jay is the Endeavour Scholarship, which provides financial support for students with exceptional abilities, who would not have otherwise been able to attend the College due to financial need. “I’m hopeful that the Endeavour Scholarship will attract other like-minded donors to fund more scholarships, particularly for bright sparks with academic merit, to help them reach their full potential.”

Jay is originally from the United States and says the way we celebrate success in each country is quite different. “Prizegiving seems unique to New Zealand and Commonwealth cultures, as students in the United States simply get a report card.”

He says the culture of philanthropy is much stronger in the United States, which is something he would like to see practiced more readily in New Zealand. “The tradition of giving back to your school is not as deeply embedded here as it is in the States, where you definitely feel you owe more to your alma mater than the tuition fees you pay.”

Rector Christine Leighton said the 2019 recipient of the Marily Scanlon Award for Teacher Excellence, Head of Media, Simon Williams, dedicated “countless hours over and above what was expected, running after-school, weekend, and holiday media programmes, and providing a place for students to learn and develop a passion for television, film and media, which for many, became a career beyond school.”

Under Simon’s guidance, students learnt the trade of being in front of or behind the camera in Years 9–10 Performing Arts, Media Studies, and the after-school TV Academy. His care and concern for students, along with his genuine joy in guiding their creative and collaborative projects, was legendary.

Simon came to St Andrew’s from the television industry in 1995, when he started part-time work. In 1997, he was made a full-time member of staff. He said he was ‘delighted and humbled’ to win the Marily Scanlon Award and that a driving force of his teaching career was always to give students “the time of their lives”.



Joanne Hooker, Jay Scanlon, retired Head of Media, Simon Williams, and Rector Christine Leighton

St Andrew’s College has lots of dedicated, hard-working and inspirational teaching staff.