SHENTON College Deaf Education teacher Karen Bontempo has been named the WA Premier’s Secondary Teacher of the Year at the WA Education Awards.
Dr Bontempo, who has been working with the deaf community for more than 20 years, was honoured with the award for her determination in breaking down barriers for deaf students and changing the views of hearing students.
She said she first fell in love with Auslan at university.
“I was studying psychology and a guy gave a talk about deaf people and I thought the language was amazing, and I felt I had to learn it,” she said.
Since then the teacher has worked with deaf students overseas and in WA, written a curriculum for Year 5 to 10 for deaf learning in WA schools, and is now in the process of developing a national curriculum that will be available to all schools across Australia.
She said winning the award was a very humbling experience.
“What has been great about the award is the positive PR of Auslan and teaching it in schools,” she said.
“On one it’s validation of a lot of hard work and being innovative and creating something from nothing, but at the same time I was just doing my job, so it’s overwhelming to have the spotlight shone on me, but it gives me a platform to talk about Auslan and the deaf community.”