È un onore ed un piacere presentare a voi le finaliste del WAATI Exemplary Teacher Award.

Tutte e tre le finaliste sono delle insegnanti d’italiano molto brave che si dedicano ogni giorno nell’insegnare l’italiano nelle classi del WA con passione e professionalità.

Ve li presento ad una ad una e leggerò in breve dei paragrafi presi dalla documentazione della loro nomina.

Mirella Kerrigan…… is an outstanding primary Italian teacher, whose teaching style has continued to evolve and improve throughout her career. She regularly attends the numerous professional learning offerings provided through AISWA, MLTAWA and WAATI and always tries new ideas and the latest strategies. Mirella is a critical thinker and adopts methods and strategies so that the learning of Italian is engaging, fun and meaningful to her young learners.

At Regent College, all students are expected to do the Italian Languages program. Mirella collaborates with teachers of the Targeted Learning Class (TLC) to ensure that students with weak literacy skills are not removed from Italian classes. She continually strives for her colleagues to value literacy development through second language learning and for all students to have access to learn Italian. Mirella joined WAATI when she first became an Italian teacher in 2006 and has since been an active member.

She has attended every state conference since except for one when she was overseas. She participates in all Annual General Meetings, social and professional learning events. Mirella served on the WAATI Committee from 2008-2011, in the roles of Primary Liaison Officer and Newsletter Editor.

Mirella values the projects and initiatives that WAATI provides and has applied for an Italian assistant through the WAATI Italian Assistente Program for the past six years.

Mirella Kerrigan is an exemplary Italian teacher – passionate about her teaching and her commitment to her students. Bravissima Mirella!!!!

Virginie Van Der Mew……. Virginie has a caring nature and contributes significantly to other Italian teachers in the profession. She is passionate about teacher development, mentorship, her MLTAWA and WAATI involvement, and her involvement with Curriculum co-ordinators from the Education Department. Virginie has done an awesome job in her role of Languages Co-ordinator for the Primary Languages Support School in 2020. Her gentle nature makes her very approachable to all. One of her initiatives this year was to invite teachers to host the network meetings at their school. This was to enable teachers to visit other Italian classrooms, and also to encourage schools from many different areas to participate in this network. Virginie is an awesome leader and trainer! She did a fabulous job in facilitating the ongoingpartnership between Education Department and WAATI to deliver workshops to support theimplementation of the Western Australian Curriculum: Languages (Italian). She is well respected by her principal, network leaders, colleagues and students. Bravissima Virginie!

Bianca Petale….for the last 37 years, she has taught languages in Western Australian public schools and been a leader in the professional associations. Bianca is passionate about promoting the Italian Language and its cultural significance to the Western Australian community. She has a proven track record both in and outside of the classroom and strives for excellence in her teaching practice, as well as continually developing her professional engagement. Bianca sets high expectations for all students. She addresses the various needs of students with a variety of strategies. Bianca uses peer tutoring to encourage students to be more aware, and have more understanding of, differences that exist in our community. Bianca served on the WAATI committee for ten years, both as Committee Member and President. She was instrumental in initiating the WAATI Assistenti Linguistici Program in collaboration with the Italian Consul in Perth. Since its inception, the program has grown in popularity and allowed schools throughout WA with the opportunity to host native speaker assistant to enhance students’ learning of Italian. For more than twenty years, Bianca has demonstrated leadership and motivation in the development of collaborative partnerships with the wider community. This has included the WAATI/ Intercultura exchange program. Bravissima Bianca

Prima di annunciare la vincitrice devo dire che non è stato facile per la giuria del concorso il loro ruolo, tutte e tre le docenti sono semplicemente fantastiche nel loro ruolo di docenti.

Quello che ho letto è solo una piccola parte di tutto quello che queste meravigliose docenti hanno svolto e stanno svolgendo nelle loro classi d’italiano.

È con piacere che annuncio che per il 2021 abbiamo due vincitrici che sono:

Mirella Kerrigam e Bianca Petale

Complimenti ed auguri!!!!!

Bianca Petale and Mirella Kerrigan receiving the Exemplary Teacher’s Award for 2020
Paula O’Donnell receiving the 2019 Exemplary Teacher Award


In 2016 the dream of the Immediate Past President of WAATI, Fulvia Valvasori, has finally been realised. As a very highly respected and competent teacher, whose ardent passion for the Italian language and culture and the mentoring of teachers of Italian has spanned over many decades, it is only apt and fitting that this innovative award be a part of her legacy and contribution for her dedicated 12 years as President and 29 years as a committee member of the Western Australian Association for teachers of Italian.

The recipient of the award is or has been a teacher of Italian who has a strong focus, not only on the teaching of the Italian language, but is a teacher who with a passion for pastoral care, sharing his/her expertise and skills, with both the students he/she teaches and also with his/her peers.  The awardee will be a teacher who is committed to making a positive difference in the teaching of Italian and to ensure that other teachers are mentored accordingly to provide a vibrant Italian programme in schools and in the wider community.

The awardee will have not only been an outstanding leader of languages at the school level, but will have also served on various committees catering for the teaching of Italian.

2019 Nominees- Colleen Barclay, Paula O’Donnell, Marissa Forgione and Pina Zingales (absent)

The Award

The WAATI Exemplary Teacher Award is one of the highest honours bestowed on a teacher of Italian in WA and recognises and congratulates excellence in the teaching of Italian AND involvement in WAATI. The award, presented annually, consists of a trophy and a certificate accompanied by a monetary award of $500. This amount is to be reviewed by the WAATI Committee annually

2018 Recipient of the Exemplary Teacher Award ~ Laura Bava

The Process

Stage 1 – Nomination

Principals, teachers, colleagues, community members and professional associations may nominate a suitable person. 

  • The nomination must address all selection criteria (listed below) and should not exceed 1000 words.
  • The nominee must be a current financial member of WAATI and have completed a minimum of 3 years continuous membership of MLTAWA and WAATI at the time of the application.
  • The cover page should be attached and signed by two nominating people, one of whom must be a current member of WAATI.
  • The names of two referees and their current contact details must also be provided.
  • The nomination must be endorsed by the nominee’s employer/Principal – either as Nominator, Seconder or Referee.
  • More than one nomination can be made.

Selection Criteria (To be completed by those nominating)

The recipient of the WAATI Award will or has:

  • demonstrate a commitment to excellence in the teaching and learning of Italian;
  • demonstrate a commitment to the welfare and inclusion of all students;
  • demonstrate a nurturing nature and significant contribution to other Italian teachers in the profession (eg. teacher development, mentorship, professional association involvement, district or regional networks, involvement in other organisations with a language interest) and
  • demonstrate involvement with and service to WAATI.

Stage 2 – Further Information

On receipt of the completed nomination forms nominees will be contacted by the President and invited to submit a Professional Background Information Form – which will give further insight to the career of the nominee and a photo of themselves which they are willing to have published on the website, etc.

Any information provided in these forms may be used by the WAATI Management Committee for purposes of promotion and in order to celebrate the award e.g. Website.

Stage 3 – Voting

The WAATI Exemplary Teacher Award Selection Panel will convene and select the finalists from whom one winner will be decided.

The selection panel is comprised of the President, the President Elect/Immediate Past President, the Vice President, the Secretary and the Awards Coordinator of the WAATI Management Committee.

If one of the panel has been nominated, then an alternative committee member will replace them on the panel. The panel will appraise each application against the selection criteria.

The decision of the selection panel will be final. 

A maximum of one award will be made each year.

Stage 4 – Presentation

The President will invite ALL finalists to be guests of WAATI at the AGM, where the finalists will be presented and the winner announced.

Nominations Closing Date: 2020 TBC

The completed nomination form (will be available late 2020) must be emailed to:


Please consider nominating someone for this award to recognise their contribution to Italian education in Western Australia.

Last modified: April 27, 2016

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