Emma Tree: Educator of the Year, 2021

Emma Tree: Educator of the Year, 2021 Emma Tree receiving her Mummy Awards trophy and prizes for 2021 Educator Of The Year

Born and raised in Cowra, Emma Tree has been announced the 2021 Educator of the Year for the Central West Mummy Awards. Described in her nomination as “always positive” and loved by both staff and students, we wanted to know more about this exemplary woman. 

Which primary schools do you work with and how long have you been teaching?

I am based at Cowra Public School and have been working as a Teacher of the Deaf since 2013. In this role I am lucky enough to visit different schools in our region, at the moment I also travel to Young Public School and Canowindra Public School. Prior to 2013, I was a classroom teacher at both Woodstock and Wyangala Dam Public Schools. I am in my 13th year of teaching. 

What led you to decide to take on additional training to assist students with a hearing disability?

I happened to fall into the role by accident. A position needed filling temporarily and I wanted to try something new. I fell in love with the job, the families and the students straight away. So, I returned to university and completed my Masters in Special Education to ensure I was eligible for a permanent position in the role. Teaching in general is the most rewarding career, but there is something particularly special about the Teacher of the Deaf role.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

There are so many wonderful things about my job, but working closely with the families would have to be the best part about it. Working with babies, toddlers, primary school aged children and high school students can be pretty crazy – every hour is different to the last, but it is oh so exciting and rewarding! There aren’t many jobs like ours. 

I hear you encouraged a large number of staff at your school to shave their heads for the World’s Greatest Shave this year – how much did you raise? (Also, I imagine it was quite strange working with so many bald colleagues!)

A group of 21 fabulous CPS staff members came together with me and shaved all their hair off for Leukaemia earlier this year. We raised over $37,000 as a team. It was a wonderful experience and one I definitely recommend to anyone – especially those who might have a team they could do it with. It was so much fun to do it together, and to see each other afterwards get back to work as normal with shaved heads was just so great! It was a lovely positive boost for our school and community. It certainly would make my day when I’d go into a shop afterwards and someone would say, “Ahh, you must be a teacher at Cowra Public School!” It was a really special time. 

What do you love most about the Central West?

I was born in Cowra and come from a farming background. My grandfather was the Mayor for a time and he instilled a great love for Cowra in me. He always called our town the “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”, and that’s how I’ve always felt about it. I have a really strong passion for promoting our beautiful area and I really try to encourage everyone to enjoy what we have here and make the most of it. We may not have everything, but we’ve sure got a lot! Beautiful parks, gardens, the Lachlan River, Wyangala Dam, specialty shops & boutiques, an aquatic centre, every sporting field you could think of, amazing history, a World Peace Bell, art gallery, local talent, sensational restaurants, cafes, pubs… the list goes on. Soon, we will be able to add Chris Hemsworth to our list of attractions! 

I have 3 young children and I just think it’s a beautiful place to raise a family.

Denise Mills

Denise Mills is a writer and accountant based in Central West NSW. Her words have featured in The Guardian, Brevity, Epoch and more.

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