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Co Down teacher stunned after being told of award live on TV by One Show's Alex Jones

Alex Jones hails gold winner, who excelled in a torrid year

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Stephanie Campbell from Co Down was astonished when her face popped up on her TV screen and One Show host Alex announced she had struck gold in the 2020 Pearson Teaching Awards - regarded as the Oscars of the profession in the UK.

Stephanie Campbell from Co Down was astonished when her face popped up on her TV screen and One Show host Alex announced she had struck gold in the 2020 Pearson Teaching Awards - regarded as the Oscars of the profession in the UK.

Stefanie with her daughter Felicity

Stefanie with her daughter Felicity

Stefanie Campbell Digital Innovator of the Year

Stefanie Campbell Digital Innovator of the Year

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Stephanie Campbell from Co Down was astonished when her face popped up on her TV screen and One Show host Alex announced she had struck gold in the 2020 Pearson Teaching Awards - regarded as the Oscars of the profession in the UK.

With gala awards events cancelled due to Covid-19, it fell to One Show presenter Alex Jones to break the news to a local teacher on national television that she had scooped a top award.

Stefanie Campbell from Co Down was astonished when her face popped up on her TV screen and BBC One Show host Alex announced she had struck gold in the 2020 Pearson Teaching Awards - regarded as the Oscars of the profession in the UK.

The 38-year-old mum-of-one from Saintfield, who is a lecturer at South Eastern Regional College (SERC), picked up gold in the Digital Innovator of the Year category.

A peer mentor and part of a teachers' 'Learning Academy' at the college, she developed a unique one-minute digital training tool for her colleagues which has proved invaluable with online teaching during the pandemic.

"It was so lovely to be part of something that recognised and celebrated teaching," says Stefanie.

Still in disbelief at being singled out for such a top gong, she recalls the surprise: "I already knew I had got silver and was thrilled because it is such a prestigious award.

"In normal circumstances you are then invited to a big gala night in London when the gold award winners are announced and it's such a big night the whole thing is recorded by the BBC.

"I had started looking at ball gowns in the hope things would be back to normal but obviously because of Covid it couldn't take place.

"Instead they did a full week on The One Show announcing the winners in each category and making a big deal of teaching.

"I was so shocked to get gold and it was amazing to be on The One Show and really special to be sitting with my daughter and husband and see my name come up on the screen.

"I really appreciate the work of all teachers and especially primary school teachers during the past year. Even though I am a teacher, I couldn't have taught my daughter to read and write at home, so what teachers have been doing with online learning has been fantastic."

And it was when teachers found themselves forced to get to grips with a whole new way of teaching back in March of last year that Stefanie's role in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) at SERC came to the fore.

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Stefanie Campbell, Deputy Head of Learning Academy at SERC who has received this award for her work in training and support of colleagues in the use of digital technologies for education. (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Stefanie Campbell, Deputy Head of Learning Academy at SERC who has received this award for her work in training and support of colleagues in the use of digital technologies for education. (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Stefanie Campbell, Deputy Head of Learning Academy at SERC who has received this award for her work in training and support of colleagues in the use of digital technologies for education. (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Married to Michael (38), an accountant, Stefanie, who has one daughter Felicity (6), is recognised as a "force of nature" at school due to her drive to use technology to enhance learning at all levels.

She gave up teaching English literature to join the Learning Academy at SERC three years ago and since then has come up with a constant supply of digital innovations to support her colleagues.

This groundwork proved essential when the college moved to online teaching in March due to Covid-19.

Stefanie and her colleagues were there to guide teachers on using virtual classrooms and step in with any technological issues.

Her innovation, which was recognised at the awards, came through a unique "one-minute" training session given to all teachers weekly.

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Stefanie with her daughter Felicity

Stefanie with her daughter Felicity

Stefanie with her daughter Felicity

Stefanie explains: "Every Friday every member of staff gets an email with a one-minute tip on how to work better or make life easier.

"It can be a one-minute video or a keyboard shortcut, just as long as it is a really quick and a really simple way to make things better. They are like mini hacks, some have been created by myself and some I've taken from what is online.

"They are just easy tips, like if you hold the Windows key and the full stop on your keyboard, your emojis come up or how to split your screen so that you can have two things on display at once.

"They are mostly shortcuts and very simple digital tools."

A big part of her role is peer mentoring which she has been doing for nine years.

This too has been crucial during the pandemic as teachers take learning online.

Stefanie says: "In SERC we have developed a real culture for helping one another and this came into its own last spring when teaching went virtual.

"There are eight of us on the team and it was a huge shift for all of us and a time when mentoring really came to the fore.

"We were able to go online with some teachers and help them to teach and show them how to use Microsoft teams and guide them through online classrooms.

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Stefanie Campbell Digital Innovator of the Year

Stefanie Campbell Digital Innovator of the Year

Stefanie Campbell Digital Innovator of the Year

"It was a learning curve for people right across the board and because we have our Learning Academy well established people knew where to go to look for help.

"In the first weeks after lockdown last March we were inundated with requests for help. It wasn't just teachers, but support staff too who were used to being in an office suddenly found themselves having to work from home.

"We held a lot of training workshops and ran an online service desk and every single day people could log in and ask for help.

"While I really love teaching and I do miss it, what I do love about my new role is being able to help people. Just being able to work together to solve a problem is what makes it so rewarding for me."

Despite the challenges of 2020, Stefanie will look back with some fondness on the year, not just because of her coveted Pearson Teaching Award but also because she graduated with a masters degree in educational leadership.

In terms of professional achievement it doesn't get any better.

The Pearson National Teaching Awards were founded in 1998 by Lord Puttnam to recognise the life-changing impact an inspirational teacher can have on the lives of the young people they teach.

Stefanie says she is still over the moon to have been selected for such a prestigious accolade.

She adds: "This has been a particularly difficult year for many, many people, including students and staff here at SERC but I am delighted to have been able to help support them through digital innovations which have enabled our students to progress with their courses, and our fantastic lecturing team to continue delivering, despite the disruptions Covid-19 has presented.

"I am extremely proud to be working at SERC, in further and higher education, which continues to play an essential part in the recovery of the economy, allowing people to reach their full potential, upskill and reskill."

Speaking on The One Show, Alex Jones said of our local teaching hero: "We are so thrilled to announce Stefanie's award on the show and to thank her for all her incredible work.

"We all know the value of a great teacher, and Stefanie has proven herself to be both outstanding and inspirational. There has never been a more important time to celebrate the hard work that happens in our schools across the country, and we are delighted to do our bit to thank them."

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