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Woolf Fisher Fellowship Award
Photo by Janine Hills

Woolf Fisher Fellowship Award

Kristan Mouat —

Congratulations to English Teacher and Showquest/Stage Challenge Director Jennifer Ashby who has been awarded a prestigious Woolf Fisher Fellowship award for 2020.

She was presented with the award in November by Dr Nigel Evans, Secretary of the Woolf Fisher Trust. Woolf Fisher awards go to exceptional teachers in New Zealand and the award will give Ms Ashby 3 weeks in Australia to explore some Australian high schools and the education and performing arts scene in 2020. Ms Ashby is the fifth Logan Park teacher to receive a Woolf Fisher Fellowship award. Ms Ashby has taught at Logan Park for over 10 years and is an inspirational teacher.

As well as excellent English teaching, Ms Ashby has also taken our Stage Challenge and ShowQuest teams for the whole time she has been here. The multi-media productions often include 50-100 students and Logan Park teams have won Best Performance in Otago a number of times including in 2017 as well as this year winning Otago Southland Best Production of Showquest 2019. Showquest also won a national award.

Ms Ashby also helps students with debating, poetry competitions and scholarship exam preparation.
The feedback from her students and classes is always overwhelmingly positive and a real endorsement of her strengths. She understands young people. She encourages and supports them and makes a difference in their lives. She nurtures emerging talent and helps young people believe in themselves. Ms Ashby creates a kind, caring, inclusive class environment where young people flourish.  

See the Otago Daily Times article by John Lewis here:  

Research trip to Australia for fellowship-winning teacher

‘‘Is this a scam?’’ — that was Jennifer Ashby’s first thought when she received an email out of the blue, telling her she had won a prestigious Woolf Fisher Fellowship.

The email swore the high achieving Logan Park High School English teacher and award-winning ShowQuest and Stage Challenge director to secrecy until it was officially announced.

‘‘But before I read to the bottom of the email where it said I had to keep it confidential, it asked me for my bank account number.

‘‘So I rang through to my head of department and said, ‘Is this a scam?’

‘‘And she said, ‘Jennifer, you’re not supposed to tell me — look at the bottom of the letter’.

‘‘I have to admit, I didn’t actually know what it was until she told me.’’

Mrs Ashby was nominated for the award by an anonymous Dunedin resident, and said she was ‘‘really blown away’’ to receive it.

Woolf Fisher Fellowships reward educational excellence in teaching, and are designed to send leading secondary teachers and principals overseas to examine different teaching practices.

Mrs Ashby plans to spend time in Australia next year, looking at John Marsden schools.

‘‘John Marsden is a novelist and educational theorist, and he has avant garde approaches to education.

‘‘His schools are very radical. They run them a bit like universities and the kids come in about 10am.

‘‘I don’t know if we’ll adopt all of his ideas, but I think some of it could fit in with Logan Park because we’re quite an open school.’’

She also planned to visit the Melbourne Arts Festival.

Woolf Fisher Trust director Nigel Evans presented the award to Mrs Ashby at a ceremony earlier this week.

He said Mrs Ashby would continue to receive her teaching salary during the term of her fellowship, and the Ministry of Education would cover the costs of a relieving teacher to take her classes while she is away.

The fellowship provides funding to cover travel, study and associated costs.