Dr Michelle Dalrymple, Mathematics and Statistics Faculty Head at Cashmere High School in Christchurch, is the 2019 Prime Minister’s Science Teacher Winner.

Michelle’s nomination for the prize says her teaching stands out because it is strongly based on cutting-edge mathematics and statistics education research, while maintaining originality, creativity, and fun with strategies that are relevant and inspiring for her students.

Michelle’s work is grounded in strong personal mathematics and statistics content knowledge and the research, theories, and practices of mathematics and statistics teaching, growth mindset, positive pedagogies of care, and culturally responsive teaching. Michelle’s teaching also reflects New Zealand-focussed and international research literature and practical classroom-based resources.

Her pet dogs are even involved in exercises like random sampling by video, which has been a hit with her students and on her blog which she shares on social media.

Within her school, Michelle shares her expertise, growing the expertise of other teachers towards all students flourishing academically and personally. Whilst at a regional and national level, Michelle has made substantial contributions in a range of Ministry of Education and NZQA development teams that have lead to improved outcomes for students nationwide. She has also facilitated a number of professional development workshops for teachers around the country and at conferences.

She has bought overseas mathematics experts to New Zealand, runs training workshops and visits other schools to share her knowledge, shares her blog and regularly networks with other teachers in the field.

Michelle with her dog Cornelius

Michelle continually strengthens her pedagogy using best evidence from research and shares her expertise to grow the skills of her team and teachers in Canterbury and throughout New Zealand with her popular workshops.

While Michelle is passionate about the “beauty and excitement of maths and stats”, she acknowledges it’s not everyone’s favourite subject and, for students who struggle, it’s important to find ways to build learner confidence.  She also continually strengthens her pedagogy using best evidence from researching her student’s results. Michelle says a fundamental part of her teaching is incorporating whanaungatanga, or teaching through relationships.”It’s so important that students feel safe and cared for and trust me, and know that I will never give up on them and I want them to achieve the very best they can.  I can’t expect them to take risks and to make mistakes unless that relationship has been formed,” she says.

Michelle has been the recipient of two fellowships, including the Royal Society Te Apārangi’s Endeavour Teacher Fellowship in 2014. She is affiliated to several national and international mathematics teacher bodies and on the International Data Science in Schools Project.

The Endeavour Teacher Fellowship opportunity, now called the Science Teaching Leadership Programme, came after the Christchurch earthquakes, which badly damaged Cashmere High School and impacted on the community. “I was coming off a pretty tough few years here. I was able to have reflection and refresh time to think about my leadership, my pedagogy and do a lot of learning. It was an amazing opportunity.”

The $150,000 prize will go towards the rebuild of Cashmere High School’s mathematics and statistics block. “I will be working with our principal and our board to ensure we make some good decisions to use the money to help improve students’ outcomes in maths and statistics at Cashmere.”