After 50 years of championing students who did not fit into mainstream education, inspirational Gold Coast teacher Colin Orevich (‘Mr O’) is retiring.
Known for still being at his desk late every evening, Mr O won the Queensland College of Teachers Outstanding Contribution to Teaching Award this year for his unwavering commitment to helping students achieve stunning academic turnarounds and personal success.
Mr O’s acceptance speech was met with a standing ovation and he brought tears to the eyes of the audience with his stirring words. You can watch his speech here.
The senior Learning Support Teacher at the Australian Industry Trade College’s Gold Coast campus, Mr O also worked as the Coordinator of a comprehensive Support and Enrichment Program at Coombabah State High School for nearly 20 years. Prior to that he taught in New Zealand.
The former Rotary International Teacher of the Year found early on in his career that he had an affinity for working with students who faced various learning challenges.
“Any teacher who has chosen a career in special education and learning support soon discovers there is great joy to be had in knowing that you can be a positive influence for struggling young people; that you can be instrumental in turning lives and attitudes around; that you will help them achieve things they never thought possible and; for many, you give them hope for the future,” Mr O told the Excellence in Teaching Awards ceremony audience.
“We are passionate about what we do and our belief that we can make a difference,” the 72-year-old said.
Graduating with a postgraduate diploma in special education and a master’s degree in teaching disengaged and at-risk students, Mr O has excelled in providing programs for students with disabilities, learning difficulties and behavioural issues, as well as covering English as a second language and vocational education for disengaged senior students, overseeing Indigenous and cultural initiatives and providing aspirational programs for the gifted and talented. He is known for helping students, some of whom have had years of Ds and Es, to achieve As and Bs.
“I enjoy the challenge of helping them achieve things they never thought possible and instilling a belief in themselves – that they can be great in their own right. If you want to be a tradie, see your name on the side of the truck, if you are a hairdresser, own the business!”, Mr O told the QCT earlier this year.
“I have a philosophy too that I want to be a better teacher this year than last year, and I want to be a better teacher next year than I am this year, so I am always seeking to better myself in terms of what I teach and how I teach it and the resources that I use. After 50 years it’s been some journey from methylated spirit duplicators to photocopiers, manual typewriters to computers and blackboards to electronic whiteboards,” he said.
“At the end of 2018 I will have completed 50 years of teaching in a career that has given me a life of purpose, meaning and fulfilment. I still get up each morning and look forward to another day at school. It has given me great joy to know I have been instrumental in helping perhaps thousands of young people over the years turn their lives and attitudes around, achieve things they never thought possible, and have instilled in them a desire to learn and a hope for the future.”
At the QCT Excellence in Teaching Awards ceremony he also thanked his students from the past 50 years.
“You have given me my life meaning and fulfillment,” he said.
“I will always be thankful that I have been on this journey with you.”
Mr O, we wish you a well-deserved and fulfilling retirement, and we thank you for your outstanding service to your students, your community and to the profession.