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Top teacher Sheelagh scoops gold!

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By Euan Maxwell
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Top teacher Sheelagh scoops gold!

A RECENTLY retired Dumfries and Galloway educator has scooped a prestigious national award.

Sheelagh Rusby, who has nearly four decades of experience in education and learning roles ranging from home economics teacher to quality improvement officer, was the gold award winner for Lifetime Achievement at the 2023 Pearson National Teaching Awards, considered the ‘Oscars’ of the teaching profession.

Sheelagh was nominated and selected as the gold award winner amongst thousands of nominees based on her inspirational teaching, contributions to her school and community, and influence among colleagues, as assessed by judges.

She said: “It makes me very proud. I never ever attended to do this forever.

“Nobody works in education on their own and therefore the award is for everybody who I’ve worked with for 40-plus years.”

Sheelagh dedicated her working life to education before she retired this year.

She started out as a home economics teacher in the Western Isles, where she was instrumental in developing the subject’s curriculum.

Throughout her career, she developed home economic qualifications that were delivered through four different Scottish exam systems, published a book chapter and contributed to the Scottish Educational Research Association Conference twice.

Sheelagh championed community schools, enterprising schools, rural skills, and developed the young workforce before these terms became part of the more recent educational ‘lingo’.

At Dumfries and Galloway Council, she created the “savour the flavour” programme which brought chefs into schools to deliver masterclasses.

Her most recent role was supporting the education system through local authority and regional improvement collaboratives.

Council education committee chairman Cllr Richard Brodie said: “This is an amazing achievement, to be considered the best in the UK is something Sheelagh should be immensely proud of.

“Sheelagh was a dedicated, hard-working and extremely valued member of our teaching profession for a long time here and oversaw many changes in the way the school day and examinations are delivered. I wish Sheelagh all the best for her retirement, it is richly deserved.”

GOLD SUCCESS . . . Sheelagh Rusby with her award

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