RECOGNITION: Samantha Cowie at the 2018 Queensland Community Achievement Awards Gala Presentation held last Friday  in Brisbane.
RECOGNITION: Samantha Cowie at the 2018 Queensland Community Achievement Awards Gala Presentation held last Friday in Brisbane. www.photomcp.com (c)

Teacher earns praise for helping teenagers

ONE top Rockhampton teacher was a semi-finalist in the prestigious University of Southern Queensland Teaching Excellence Award category at the 2018 Queensland Community Achievement Awards Gala Presentation held last Friday in Brisbane.

Samantha Cowie, who works for the Department of Education Queensland, at the Positive Learning Centre based at the Hall State School and with Queensland Police Service with their program Project Booyah, was surprised when she first heard of her nomination for the award.

"The department at Project Booyah nominated me for the award,” she said.

"At first, I didn't quite believe it because I have never won anything in my life.

"I was just so honoured that I had been nominated, but then to get to that level, looking at the profiles of the other candidates, to be considered was just incredible.”

Ms Cowie, who brought her parents along to the gala presentation at Royal on the Park, said she was overwhelmed when she was presented as a semi-finalist for the award.

"I never expected to be nominated for my job,” she said.

"The idea of getting an award for something I love doing was a bit weird.

"I love what I do and my passion is students who have experienced extreme trauma in their life. I want them to succeed and I want to see outcomes and gains in them.”

Ms Cowie is a Positive Behaviour Specialist assisting primary schools across Rockhampton with complex student behaviours. She also works two-days-a-week with Queensland Police on Project Booyah to re-engage disadvantaged or at risk teenagers in school and employment pathways.

Ms Cowie loves what she does because she has the potential to change a child's life.

"I work with kids that hate being at school, have come from trauma background, or not necessarily have a trauma background but school is not a positive experience for them and I have the ability to change that,” she said. "By changing it to a positive experience they get an education and more than likely go on to be more successful in the future.

"Some of the girls I work with at Project Booyah weren't attending school and their attendance is now back up.

"One of the students has got consistent D's in her English for the last two years and she just got an A-.

"She was looking at dropping out of school at the end of this year and is now going to continue to Year 12. Statistically, this means she will go on to further tertiary education and earn a higher wage and is not going to be a low-income earner or on the doorstops of Centrelink. By helping her, I then help her entire family.”

Coordinator of Project Booyah Rockhampton Senior Constable Joe Ramsay said he nominated Ms Cowie because she was filling out the criteria early on.

"It's about teaching excellence and she puts herself out there in Project Booyah, makes herself accessible and pushes what she does,” Senior Constable Ramsay said. "She doesn't work in an easy place or an easy environment, but she pushes herself to do the best she can with the kids we have involved.

"Even without nominating Sam, what she does for Project Booyah and what she does in the community in her other role is outstanding.

"Teachers have a hard job, but she goes above and beyond what she needs to do and really puts the effort in.

"Without her involved in Project Booyah I don't think it would be quite the success that it is.”