Mrs Bernie Toohey Awarded Inspirational HPE Teacher of the Year

Mrs Bernie Toohey of St John Fisher College has been announced as 2019 UQ HMNS Inspirational Teacher of the Year.

Two days shy of World Teacher Day, Bernie was presented with this prestigious award at the ACHPER University of Queensland, Women in Sports breakfast on Wednesday 23rd October. The Women in Sport Breakfast is a yearly event which is attended by approximately 800 school girls from the South-East Queensland area. 

Bernie has been working in education since graduating from UQ in 1990 and is currently a full time HPE teacher at St John Fisher College. She is also the Year 7 and 8 Coordinator, runs the Year 7 and 8 HPE program as well as the College’s netball program.

Head of Sport, Ms Tamara Sparks, who supported the three nominating students in putting Bernie forward, says her passion for sport is fierce as is her dedication to her students.  

In 2019, Bernie has demonstrated great commitment to the College training, running and organising 13 interschool netball teams. In addition to this she coordinates and coaches the Vicki Wilson junior and senior netball teams as well as coaches the junior, intermediate and senior QC Cup netball teams. She also coaches the QISSN netball team which travels to the largest independent schools’ netball carnival each year and has recently become Team Manager for USC (University Sunshine Coast) Thunder competing in the inaugural Hart Sapphire Series.

“Bernie has been instrumental in the uprise and recent success of netball at St John Fisher College and with over 30 years of netball experience at the State, Australian and International level including previous Team Manager of the Queensland Firebirds and Australian U16 Schoolgirls Teams, she is an absolute asset to the College”, says Ms Sparks.

Nominated by Courtney Winter, Marina Pataanga and Kaiyah Gordon, all keen St John Fisher College netballers, the students see her as an inspiration on and off the netball court.

Year 10 student, Marina Pataanga comments; “The qualities of a health and physical education teacher are difficult to assess but easy to spot”.

“Mrs Toohey is one of the most dedicated, hardworking, fun-loving teachers at St John Fisher College.”

​“She expects great effort and accomplishment from her students, regardless of the level they are working at; constantly helping students work towards reaching their goals.”

During her acceptance speech at the ACHPER award presentation, Bernie expressed her gratitude to the St John Fisher College students and Ms Sparks for nominating her for the award. “I feel incredibly honoured to be receiving such a special award given that I know first hand that there are so many amazing, hardworking HPE teachers in other schools across the state. I am definitely one of the lucky ones working in a wonderful College where the students and school community have gone out of their way to show their appreciation for my commitment and passion as a HPE teacher”. Bernie also mentioned “that as a former UQ graduate, as well as being both a mother and a HPE teacher, it gives me great personal satisfaction to be receiving this award at a Women in Sport event in front of my two remarkable daughters who to my delight, are both currently studying to be teachers. Perhaps I should retire soon and pass on the baton! Fortunately, I still wake up every day loving my job so I honestly don’t see myself giving up teaching any time soon.”

​The inspirational teacher award coincides with World Teacher Day, a timely opportunity to acknowledge the positive difference teachers make to young people’s lives.