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Moray & Banffshire Heroes 2024: Primary school teacher shortlist revealed!

By Leah Williamson

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Here is your shortlist for the primary school teacher award. Voting closes on Sunday, March 24.

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Kirstin Player, St Sylvester’s, Elgin

Kirstin Player.
Kirstin Player.

Primary six and seven teacher at St Sylvester’s, Elgin, Kirstin Player, has been praised for going above and beyond for all of her pupils.

A nomination said she not only supports youngsters with their schoolwork but also with their self-esteem, and that she organises additional activities and sports clubs for them too: “She has gone above and beyond to provide additional activities for the class to ensure their last year of primary school is special and memorable. She also set up and runs sports clubs for the class to encourage them to not only try out, but also compete in tournaments, working closely with them to build their confidence.

“She ensures that all of her children are given a voice, are encouraged to speak up and be heard. Mrs Player got through to them in a way no-one else had managed to. She goes above and beyond for all of her children.”

Kirstin has been teaching for 16 years and has been at St Sylvester’s for seven years. Asked what she enjoys most about her role, she explained: “Seeing children thrive, how they develop and that they’re happy and engaged when they’re learning. It’s amazing.”

Surprised by her nomination, Kirstin added: “It’s slightly shocking! It’s not something you expect.”

Sarah Will, New Elgin Primary School, Elgin

Sarah Will.
Sarah Will.

“Kind” “empathetic” and “incredible” are just some of the words used to describe New Elgin Primary School teacher, Sarah Will.

A nomination said: “Mrs Will has consistently gone above and beyond. She communicates brilliantly with parents, and keeps researching and trying new strategies to help. She is an incredible professional and an extremely special teacher. Empathetic, kind, committed and effective. We are extremely lucky to have her.”

Sarah is in her 19th year of teaching and has been a mainstream teacher until this past year where she has been working as an ASN (additional support needs) teacher, as the school’s mentor to two probationer teachers, and she is also undertaking nurture training. In addition, she covers some upper classes, takes the choir and looks after the pupil council!

“It’s been the most fantastic year. I feel I have found my calling working with a group of ASN children, it’s so rewarding. And in my mentoring role, helping newly qualified teachers become fully qualified, has also been hugely rewarding.”

Shocked by her nomination, she added: “I feel humbled. I can’t believe someone has taken the time to think about me like that. This job is a team effort. It shouldn't just be me, it should be everybody who works alongside me.”

Mike Kourpanidis, Gordonstoun, Elgin

Mike Kourpanidis.
Mike Kourpanidis.

Gordonstoun teacher Mike Kourpandis’ innovative ideas, enthusiasm and commitment to his class have secured his nomination for a Heroes award.

He has been praised for going beyond normal expectations and capturing the imagination of his young students, a combined primary four and five class equivalent.

A nomination said: “Mike’s inspiring lessons in history, science and art, capture the imagination of his students. Known to many as the ‘Big Friendly Giant’, his innovative ideas and commitment to his class goes beyond normal expectations of a primary teacher.”

Mike also delighted his students by making bearded dragon, Aurora, a new classmate so youngsters can learn about the species and habitat, as well the responsibility of caring for her.

Hailing from Australia, Mike has been teaching since 2016 and at Gordonstoun for the past five years.

“I enjoy relating my teaching to the world around me ‒ current affairs, Scotland. And being from another country, I enjoy giving that comparison of where I grew up and the history of where I’m from. Kids are the best part of my job and the reason I come in every day.”

On learning of his nomination Mike added: “I’m quite taken aback. Being shortlisted is exciting, it’s an honour. It shows that the hard work that you do is recognised.”

Indaver is sponsoring the award for primary school teacher.

“Indaver is delighted to be supporting Heroes this year. As an organisation embedded in the community, it is important to recognise members of the community for the extraordinary work they do. Those who go the extra mile to help others, while knowing they don’t have to, makes it even more special and sincere.

“We are sponsoring this year’s primary school teacher category. Indaver wants to recognise the phenomenal work those in the education sector do to inspire and guide the next generation.

“Teachers work incredibly hard, and often go above and beyond what they have to out of genuine passion to educate and help young people to flourish.

“Your vote will make a difference, not only to the winner’s life, but all those they have helped. Let’s help them to be the inspiration for others.”

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